Close, but non cigare for Danish Tour team

Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank owner Bjarne Riis is proud of his riders’ performance, despite them not winning a Tour stage yet

July 18th, 2012 1:13 pm| by admin

As the Tour de France enters its final few days, the Danish-owned Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank continues to aggressively pursue their first stage victory. On Monday they came tantalisingly close.

The stage saw team owner Bjarne Riis implement some unconventional tactics in an effort to get Nicki Sørensen into the breakaway pack. Initially, Sørensen was blocked by other teams from being able to be a part of the small breakaway group, but Riis sent his riders to the front of the peloton and threatened to increase the pace and catch the breakaway group if Sørensen wasn’t allowed to catch up to them.

The risky bluff paid off and Sørensen joined up with the group, only to finish fourth, just seconds behind the winner, Pierrick Fédrigo of the Francaise des Jeux team.

But despite just missing out on a stage victory on Monday, Riis was full of praise for the tenacity his riders are displaying in their hunt for a stage triumph.

“Motivation and morale are incredibly high. That we can continue to fight despite being so far into the Tour is great to see,” Riis told Ekstra Bladet newspaper. “We have been very visible, but have yet to win a stage. Winning a stage is still our ambition and it’s not the last time you’ll see these lads on TV.”

And Riis will also be pleased that the Danish team ranks ninth when it comes to Tour winnings. His team’s riders have collected about 175,000 kroner thanks to assertive riding, particularly Michael Mørkøv’s three consecutive days riding in breakaways during the first week, as well as top-ten finishes by Nicki Sørensen, Chris Anker Sørensen, Sergio Paulinho and Juan Jose Haedo.

There are only two serious mountain stages left in this Tour, which ends in Paris on Sunday, and if Chris Anker Sørensen is to be successful in his hunt for the polka-dotted mountain jersey, he must be agressive. He currently sits in third place in the mountain standings, and 20th overall, but he is 30 points behind the leading Frederik Kessiakoff of the Astana team, with only 134 points remaining to be had. And that may just prove to be a hill of points too steep to climb.

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