Monday, May 11, 2015

Scandinavian Update: Danes Attack!

Busy weekend up north with two races in Norway, the GP Hadeland and the Ringerike GP, as well as the big Swedish one-day race in Uppsala. The Danes were on a mission to steal UCI points from everyone and boy, did they ever.

Hadeland and Ringerike

The Kragh Andersen brothers have been known quantities for some times now but they have been on their A-games this year with Tre-For. Asbjørn is the older of the two and is more sprint oriented with top 10 finishes in the Rund um Köln, Coppi e Bartali, Volta ao Portugal and more recently at the Tour du Loir et Cher, where he took a bunch sprint on the final day. He isn't limited to sprints though as he has had his share of long breakaway results such as his 3rd place on the first stage of the Tour de l'Avenir last year that saw him secure the lead for the next two stages.

Søren is probably the more talented of the two. After a star junior career, Søren showed promise in 2014 after winning the Danish U23 TT and then finishing 4th in the Tour of Denmark TT just 12 seconds behind winner Alexey Lutsenko. This year has been intense flashes of brilliance. He was 7th on the insane stage 2 at Coppi e Bartali ahead of Siutsou, Meintjes, Pellizotti and a whole host of others. He was 6th in the Volta Limburg Classic, which was in the first chase group behind winner Stefan Küng. He proceeded to stomp everyone at the ZLM Roompot Tour by winning 2 stages (one being a TTT) and 4th in the other to take Denmark to the Nations Cup lead.

Søren Kragh takes the sprint win for his 4th win of the year.
Photo: Lindstrom

In the GP Hadeland, Søren got into a late move with ex-pro Vegard Stake Laengen (Joker), Frederik Galta (Coop) and young Dane Rune Almindsø. They worked well together and with representation from many of the big teams, they were able to take it to the line. Galta was hoping to take the sprint but having done a bit too much work in the break, he wasn't fresh enough to compete with SKA. 

Ringerike was an even more impressive beatdown. The 40th anniversary of the race, which has been won by nearly every big time Norwegian racer including Hushovd, Boasson Hagan, Kaggestad, Rasch, etc., was shaped by an early breakaway that saw the field wittle down slowly lap after lap. Following a Haavard Blikra attack, Odd Eiking (Joker) went solo but was eventually joined up by 7 others including 3 from Tre-For in the Kragh Andersen bros. and Swede Michael Olsson as well as Stake Laengen (again), August Jensen and Skive-Lobet winner Alexander Kamp. This basically came down to Olsson running cover for his teammates and Asbjorn and Soren were too quick for everyone and took an impressive 1-2.

When is the last time two brothers finished 1-2 in a UCI race? Cool to see.


Meanwhile 600 kilometers away in Eastern Sweden, the Danes were continuing their dominant run in Sweden's oldest race, the Skandisloppet or Scandinavian Race Uppsala. It was the 107th edition of the race and the record for the most wins in the race is shared between Henry-Peter Hansen (Denmark) and Ragnar Malm (Sweden), both of which were from the 1910's and 20's.

In any case, Uppsala never usually finishes together but the surprise here was a rider that is better known for his sprint won solo. Nicolai Brochner (Riwal) has been getting closer every year to a breakthrough and he ended up off the front of a group of 9 with 15 kilometers to go to take a solo win in the famous university city. Brochner took advantage of some lighter competition but perhaps he is moving away from being a total sprinter? We shall see but in any case, it was a banner weekend for the Danes.

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