ORICA-GreenEDGE dominated the Eneco Tour stage six time trial. Svein Tuft powered to victory with an untouchable time of 20:25 over the 17.4 kilometer course to take his first WorldTour individual win of the season. The Canadian powerhouse leads the Benelux race after the penultimate stage.
"When I came across the line and saw my time, I was pretty surprised," said Tuft. "I was hoping to have a really good time trial, but I didn't expect to be in the leader's jersey at this point in the race. It's a great feeling."
Taylor Phinney (BMC) set an early fast time of 20:30 on the course in Ardooie, Belgium. At the intermediate checkpoint, Tuft was less than a second behind Phinney. At the finish, Tuft had made up more than five seconds to move into the hot seat. When all the riders had crossed the line, Tuft remained atop of the leader board with Phinney in second and Lars Boom (Rabobank) in third.
"This morning when I did a little warm-up, I knew it was going to be a good ride," explained Tuft. "With how good I felt, I knew if I put everything down that I had, I could be in contention for a top three on the stage"
"A lot of riders put an emphasis on the first half of the course," he continued. "We went out in a headwind section and returned with a tailwind. They might not have realized it was difficult coming back as well. I still had a good amount of gas in the tank for the second half of the effort, and I think that's where I made up quite a bit of time."
Svein Tuft wins Time Trial. Photo credits : Graham Watson
The decisive time trial has ORICA-GreenEDGE well-positioned ahead of the final stage of racing. Both Luke Durbridge and Jens Mouris posted top-ten finishes in the time trial with Durbridge in eighth at 25 seconds and Mouris in ninth at 26 seconds. The duo are tied on time on the general classification, 25 seconds behind Tuft, with Mouris in fourth overall and Durbridge in fifth. Sebastian Langeveld gives ORICA-GreenEDGE a fourth rider in the general classification top ten in sixth place, 37 down on Tuft.
"We're in a really good position with four riders in the top six," noted Tuft. "This gives us a lot to play with, and they're all really strong guys. At this point, we haven't discussed a plan for tomorrow yet, but we have options when we have numbers on our side. I'm expecting a good battle."