A tale of two races

Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank are looking to replicate Manuele Boaro’s podium place in the Tour of Denmark with one for Alberto Contador in Spain

The 22nd edition of the Tour of Denmark proved to be a great success, with stars like Mark Cavendish, André Greipel, Oscar Freire and Tom Boonen gracing Danish cycling fans with their presence.

Dutch rider Lieuwe Westra topped the overall standings of the six-day race, which wound it way through 857.5 kilometres of Denmark’s countryside. Beginning in Randers, the tour passed through Aarhus, Silkeborg, Vejle, Odense and Copenhagen, where Cavendish won the sprint on Frederiksberg Allé.

Ramunas Navardauskas of Lithuania finished second, while there was glory for Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank as their Italian rider Manuele Boaro finished third in the overall standings.

Other notable Danish results were Mads Christensen in 15th, Tour de France hero Michael Mørkøv in 16th, Michael Andersen coming 20th, and winning the best young rider standings, while Lars Bak was 22nd and former Tour de France great Michael Rasmussen finished 51st.

Additionally, Nicola Aistrup won the hill standings and Sebastian Lander the most aggressive rider award.

Boaro was pleased with a result he hope to build on in the future.

“The Tour of Denmark is a good race that fits my riding style and that I hope to win in the future,” Boaro said on his team’s website. “Even though I come from Italy, I feel at home here in Denmark where the fans have shown great enthusiasm, boosting us throughout the race.”

The tour was not, as is often feared when it follows the Tour de France and an Olympic Games, an anticlimax in which most of the cyclists don't try.

“We have had the best field ever and it was great to see the stars here in Denmark race and not just go through the motions,” Jesper Worre, the race director, wrote on the race website. “We met lots of happy and accommodating people everywhere, the race progressed smoothly and we have been praised from all sides, and importantly by the head commissioner of the UCI.”

However, the culmination of the Danish race doesn’t mark the end of  the working week for Bjarne Riis and Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank because their star Alberto Contador is currently trying to win his first Vuelta a España since 2008.

And it is so far looking like a promising comeback bid for Contador, who only recently returned from a two-year drug ban.

Nearly halfway through the race, Contador sits third, only a minute behind Spanish leader Joaquin Rodriguez and seven seconds behind his main rival, Chris Froome of Great Britain. Alejandro Valverde is just seven seconds off Contador’s pace while Dutch hope Robert Gesink is a further 54 seconds behind.

It promises to be an exciting week in Spain, with the time trial tomorrow and several mountain stages coming up over the weekend, which are well suited to Contador’s strong climbing ability.

“I have been away from the races for a while, and I can feel that the race has suited the more explosive riders. But now the race shifts to an environment that I thrive in,” Contador told his team’s website. "The tactics for the mountains will be designed in accordance with the results of the time trial.”

Matti Breschel, racing for Dutch team Rabobank, and Nicki Sørensen of Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank respectively, are the only two Danes in the race and both are out of contention in the overall standings. While Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank is in 12th place out of 22 teams.

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