Russ Downing won yesterday's fifth and final stage of the Glava Tour of Norway (UCI 2.1) in Hønefoss, taking the bunch sprint from Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Belisol) with Zak Dempster fourth.
Downing's win saw Endura Racing emerge from the race on a positive note after the team's General Classification ambitions were undone by a series of crashes and mechanical problems on Thursday's second stage when Iker Camaño (a stage winner here in 2011), Zak Dempster, Rene Mandri and Downing were effectively removed from overall contention. Over the following days, the team were agitators in many moves with Zak Dempster and Paul Voß spending significant time in the main breaks of the day.
On the final stage, which ran for 172km from Gjøvik to Hønefoss, Paul Voß was part of a six strong move which spent much of the day out in front of a peloton being tightly marshalled by Sky Procycling for race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen. The move was finally reeled in on the finishing circuit with a little more than 20km to go and the stage was set for a bunch kick. Knowing that sitting behind the Sky train was going to prove fatal to their hopes of winning the stage, Zak Dempster shepherded Russ through the final kilometres and delivered him into the perfect position coming out of the final two bends to launch him towards the finishing line and Russ won by a clear margin over Clarke and van der Sande.
Speaking after the race, Russ Downing said:
“It's a good reward for the team as we had an unlucky time over the first three day, a top 5 finish was possible before my punctures but that's bike racing.
“Zak gave me an amazing lead out today. Sky were setting up for Edvald and we knew we had to get the jump on them and he did a great job taking me into position”.
Alex Sans Vega (Sporting Director) added:
“Finally on last stage all the good work that the guys have done during the week has been paid back. We have had bad luck especially on the second day where we lost all our chances for the General Classification. We have kept working very hard every day and today we got the result we deserved”.
The Tour of Norway squad now heads to Estonia for the Tallinn-Tartu Grand Prix on Friday and the SEB Tartu Grand Prix on Saturday, both ranked 1.1 on the UCI Europe Tour calendar. Back in the UK, the Tour Series features three rounds this week in Oxford, Redditch and Aberystwyth and the team will be hoping to continue their strong start to the 2012 series.