Monday, March 17, 2014

Ride of the Week: Magnus Cort dominates in Istria

There is no speculation about who received the honors for this week's Ride of the Week because when a rider dominates a race like Magnus Cort did at the Istrian Spring Trophy, you would have to be mental to not give him a tip of the hat. For the 2nd week running, a Danish CULT Energy rider takes the Espoirs Central Ride of the Week and unless your name is Jack Haig, this might be one of the most impressive U23 performances this season, to date.
Magnus Cort was a revelation in the 2013 season with his two stage wins in the Tour of Denmark and was attracting World Tour attention, including from Tinkoff-Saxo (with whom he attended a training camp in early 2013). Cort decided to stay with CULT for 2014 but he did attend Giant-Shimano's team camp this January so he might be making his plans known. For those who are new to Cort, let me give you a crash course. He was raised on the island of Bornholm, which is on the extreme east of Denmark in the Baltic Sea and a ways away from the mainland. Cort was a big talent as a junior and won the junior Peace Race as well as the Danish National RR. Also, he lives with his CULT Energy teammate Rasmus Sterobo in an apartment in Horsens, which is the city where the team historically comes from.

After a rather quiet buildup to the race, Cort put in a good prologue (for him) that landed him 31st, just five seconds back off the winner Gregor Muhlberger. Cort wouldn't need to worry about needing an extra second or two because he would be taking dozens of seconds from the peloton. On the first stage, Cort attacked the large lead group on the final cobbled climb into the town of Labin with 300 meters to go and simply rode away from the likes of Karel Hnik and Patrick Konrad to take the victory. Would Cort be satisfied with a yellow jersey and a stage win? Not a chance.

On the 2nd stage to the medieval town of Motovun, Cort and his CULT Energy team played it to a T. Letting a breakaway that included, among others, Jan-Niklas Droste, Tim Schlichenmeier and Stian Remme get over a 5 minute advantage, the Danish team tapped out a good rhythm and caught them with 10 kilometers to go before taking the uphill into Motovun. With 4 kilometers to go, Adria Mobil's Radoslav Rogina attacked at the base of the cobbled climb but was brought back with 1.5 kilometers to go. His teammate Matej Mugerli proceeded to hit his front wheel into him, breaking a spoke and ending any chances of beating Cort. Cort accelerated hard in the final kilometer and stretched out an advantage over Karel Hnik (again) and Felix Großschartner and was 8 seconds ahead by the time he past through the city's medieval archway.

Cort simply rode in the wheels on the final day to secure his overall victory, becoming the first person to win consecutively on the two hilltop finishes in the race's history. This was also the first time that a Slovenian didn't place in the top 3 overall in the race. In any case, I have a strong suspicion that come June, Cort might be feeling the pull to come into the pro ranks early but only time will tell.

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