Jonas Ahlstrand capped off a sterling day for his Giant-Shimano squad Thursday when he gave the team its second win of the day, taking the Tour of Alberta’s second stage.
Earlier on Thursday John Degenkolb won stage 12 of the Vuelta a España, his third victory of the race. The team also kept the race lead in Alberta for its man Tom Dumoulin, who took the leader’s jersey after winning the prologue.
Theo Bos (Belkin) finished second in the Alberta sprint, followed by Ruben Zepuntke (Bissell Development Team) in third. Zepuntke sprinted to a win in Alberta the previous day.
“I started the sprint early today, coming from behind and trying to create a gap,” said Bos, 31, who surged for the line with more than 300 meters to go. “Unfortunately, someone was on my wheel who could pass me. But that’s cycling.”
The win marked a big result for Sweden’s Ahlstrand, 24, and was his second victory of the season. The other came on the second stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The Tour of Alberta’s brisk second stage ran from Innisfail to Red Deer via a fast 145.3-kilometer route, and included three closing circuits that went by as quickly as the breakaway evaporated.
It took some time for the day’s break to establish itself. Eventually, a group of 15 got away with 55km to race, though that number came down to three, leapt to five, then hit seven as riders bridged up from the peloton.
“It was a really big fight for the break today with nothing getting away,” Ahlstrand said. ”It wasn’t until 40km to go until six guys got away so I went for the intermediate sprints and then when the break went we controlled the gap at a minute and no more.”
As teams and riders shuffled and reshuffled, three riders stayed off the front for a swath of time, in Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Sportswear Development), Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge), and Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare). Cameron Wurf (Cannondale) and James Stemper (5-Hour Energy) soon joined the lead trio.
Two more riders later joined the move as the advantage was whacked back down to just 10 seconds. All stage, the break had difficulty establishing a convincing advantage, dangling only 35 seconds ahead of the peloton with 32.5km to go, giving the day’s quick stage a crit-like edge.
Simon Yates took the only KOM points on offer, followed by Carpenter. For Carpenter, it was just another day of work in what’s becoming an immense late season charge. He won a stage up Mt. Crested Butte at the USA Pro Challenge and was in the Alberta break on Wednesday as well.
Reijnen, Yates and eventual breakaway companion, Ben King (Garmin-Sharp), who bridged across coming into the three-lap circuit in Red Deer, stayed clear until 3km remaining in the race. “I was really trying to steal the overall lead more than go for a stage win,” Reijnen said. “Ben and I were giving it a go and weren’t that short. The race was real fast today.”
Giant-Shimano chased hard for both the sprint and the overall lead; the peloton was strung out throughout the race, single file as the pace crept up.
“I stayed in the wheels on the final climb and made it over the top in the top ten,” Ahlstrand said. “The run in was quick and I was able to follow the wheels and wait until 200m to go to launch my sprint.”
The field was given a reprieve from the miserable weather of stage 1, which lashed the peloton with a cold rain and sub-50 degree temperatures. At the finish in Red Deer, it was about 70 degrees and cloudy.
The Tour of Alberta resumes on Friday, with a stage from Wetaskiwin to Edmonton.
General Classification (Top 5)
1. Tom Dumoulin (NED), Giant-Shimano, 3:24:09
2. Ruben Zepuntke (GER), Bissell Development Team, + 0:09
3. Serghei Tvetcov (ROU), Jelly Belly-Maxxis, + 0:14
4. Tom Danielson (USA), Garmin-Sharp, + 0:17
5. Ryan Anderson (CAN), Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, + 0:18