Roglic claims Tour d’Azerbaidjan overall title

Sergey Firsanov of RusVelo won the closing stage of the Tour d’Azerbaidjan, while Primoz Roglic took the overall win, Azerbaijan Gymnastic Federation reported.

Firsanov had attacked out of the peloton in the final of the difficult Old City circuit course, and maintained a slight lead until the finish along with Alexandr Shushemoin (Kazakhstan National Team), who was second. Third place went to Matej Mugerli (Synergy Baku Cycling Project), who won the sprint of the chase group.

Primoz Roglic was also in that chase group, and easily secured the overall title, having led the race since the second stage, which he won. Jasper Ockeloen (Parkhotel Valkenburg) and Mugerli took second and third overall, respectively.

The sprint title went to Marko Kump (Adria Mobil), and the final mountain jersey to Alexander Surutkovych (Synergy Baku Cycling Project). The best young rider was Frantisek Sisr (Team Dukla Praha). Maksym Averin of the Synergy Baku Cycling Project was the best Azeri rider and Adria Mobil topped the team ranking.

Once again, blue skies and warm temperatures greeted the peloton at Freedom Square in Baku. The riders were preparing to take on eight large laps of a circuit course and three laps of a smaller, difficult course through the old walled city.

A break group formed soon, with Alexander Evtushenko (RusVelo), Griffin Easter (Airgas-Safeway) and Ido Zilberstein (Cycling Academy Team). Ioannis Tamouridis (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) and later his teammate Azeri national champion Elchin Asadov gave chase while the leaders clung to their lead.

Easter took the first intermediate sprint, and Zilberstein the second and third. The trio took a six minute gap with them with four laps left. As they set off on the last lap of the larger course, another chase group which had formed was caught be the field and the gap was down to just over four minutes.

Zilberstein also took the first mountain ranking, and Evtushenko the second. Easter dropped back from the lead group, and the gap narrowed to only two minutes. A moment’s scare saw race leader Roglic crash on the cobbled streets of the Old City, but he was quickly on the bike again.

Oleg Zemlyakov of the Kazakhstan National Team put in a strong attack, but was reeled back in. His place was then taken by Sergei Firsanov (RusVelo) attacking out of the peloton. He was soon only 20 seconds behind the leaders, with the field 40 seconds behind him.

Zilberstein was alone in front as he hit the finish line for the penultmate time, but the two RusVelo riders and a reduced peloton were closing in rapidly. The escape was then quickly ended, with some 14 km left in the race.

Another break group of 10 formed, while Alexandr Shushemoin of the Kazakh team shot out to a 10 second lead. He was joined by Jasper Ockeloen (Parkhotel Valkenburg), who was second in GC and only 34 seconds down, and Firsanov, with race leader Roglic leading the chase. They took their narrow 10 second lead into the closing kilometers, and Firsanov and Shushemoin were able to maintain the slightest of leads as they hit the finish line.