Thursday, 29 May 2014

Young Norwegian Erlend Blikra won the French race Le Trophée Centre Morbihan part of the Uci Nations Cup for juniors. Second place in the overall standings took Russian Nicolay Cherkasov and the third Dane X Nikias Larsen.

Final race podium (photo: @directvelo)

The riders competed in three stages played last weekend. On Saturday, they had to overcome a hilly stage with a length of 93.7 km. On Sunday they faced short time trial in the morning and a decisive stage to Locminé later on.

Saturday's stage finished with a bunch sprint won by the race winner Erlend Blikra who beat the French favorite Damien Touze and the Dutchman Sjoerd Bax on the line.

Erlend Blikra's impressive sprint (photo: Camille Nicol)

Despite many attempts to attack in the initial phase of stage Norwegian team was in control of field and did not allow any serious escapes in first part of the stafe. At 41km to the finish Italians tried to split the field with attack from three of their riders. The leaders formed a group composed Pedersen (Denmark), Kumar (Slovenia), Plebani, Moschetti, Rocchetti (Italy ), Shatovkin (Russia), Sureda Morey (Spain) and Dunbar ( Ireland). To dangerous escape joined by two favorites: Erlend Blikra and Magnus Bak Klaris . The advantage , however, did not exceed more then 30 seconds, and the group was caught up 22km before the finish . Emiel Planckaert and Sjoerd Bax tried to stay away in the last kilometers, but were overtaken almost at the finish line.

The time trial on Sunday's morning from Reguiny to Naizin a length of 7.2km was decisive for overall win. The impressive victory took a leader, Erlend Blikra, who defeated an excellent time trialer Russian Nicolay Cherkasov  by 19 seconds. Third place went to another Russian Petr Rikunov, 21 seconds behind Blikra.

Filippo Rocchetti (photo: @directvelo)
The last stage was dominated by spectacular ride from the Norwegian team. They controlled the course of the whole stage, for a long time did not allow any breakways to go. They cleared dangerous action of nine riders with Nicolay Cherkasov and managed to keep the race lead for Erlend Blikra. In the last three kilometers of the stage attacked Filippo Rocchetti (Italy), Emiel Planckaert (Belgium) and Eddie Dunbar (Ireland), which maintained the advantage to the finish. Italian Rocchetti have won the stage. The peloton of Blikrą lost 15 seconds and the Norwegian kep his yellow jersey. He also won the points and youth classifications. The climebrs jersey went to Tom Wirtgen from Luxembourg.



I'm really impressed by how Blikra and whole Norwegian team rode last weekend. The first stage win for Blikra was very convincing but it was the time trial that was decisive for GC. 19 seconds on 7.2km course is pretty big advantage but without help from his team it would be probably very hard to keep the leader's jersey on final stage.

Good to see Cherkasov back in action. He did well last season and i was expecting decent results from him this year. He dnf'ed in Roubaix but looks like he's fully recovered and going to be a dangerous rider in stage races.

Magnus Bak Klaris didn't have a chance to show his level since his time trial skills are not so great. He finished 14th and tried to split the field on first stage but it was all decided by sprints in both first and third stage. Better luck next time.

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