Svein Tuft time trialed to the first international victory for Orica-Greenedge during the Australian outfit’s second season. The eight time Canadian national time trial champion set a scorching speed of 22:14 over 19.2 kilometres. Tuft edged out Leandro Messineo (San Luis Somos Todos) by seven seconds to win stage four of Tour de San Luis. Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) rounded out the stage podium.
“This time of year, I’m not always sure what I’m going to get,” admitted Tuft. “I’ve had good feelings, but I was a little surprised at how hard it felt when I was out there. I forget every year how hard it is. I think that’s what allows me to keep doing it.”
Tuft credits Orica-Greenedge trainer Marc Quod with giving him an extra edge.
“I did a lot of strength and endurance in the off season,” Tuft said. “Working with Quod has been really good. It’s probably been one of the better winters for me. I’ve focused on things that I don’t normally work. We kept the training really simple and I think that helped.”
“Another fortunate thing is that I came down early to Argentina,” he added. “I was able to adjust to the heat and riding in the local climate. That’s definitely been to my benefit.”
The non-technical course suited Tuft’s strengths.
“It was a wide open highway-type course,” he said. “It included two roundabouts and a couple corners. That’s it. It was really simple in that sense. The wind was a bit difficult going out, and the downhill sections were super fast. It’s definitely a course made for me.”
Tuft carefully metered his efforts during the first half of the time trial and flew home during the second half.
“The sections with the gradient were tough,” he explained. “I had to really put myself out there without going too far into the red too early. It was definitely important not to lose any time on the way out. I pushed hard and recovered where I could with the momentum I had already built. I think that really paid off for me. There are strong guys here, and I had to give it everything I had.”
Tuft ticked off a few key time trials he plans to target during the remainder of the season – specifically mentioning both the team time trial and individual time trial at Tirreno Adriatico and the individual time trial at Circuit de la Sarthe. Halfway through his list, he stopped himself with the realization that he targets every time trial he starts.
“I look to take advantage of every opportunity to time trial,” he said. “There’s never any guarantee of good form, so when I have it, I’m ready to make the most of it.”
Looking at Tour de San Luis as a whole, Tuft has been satisfied with his first experience racing in Argentina.
“This is a really great race to start out the year,” said Tuft. “It’s not super high stress, but it is super high quality. Everyone is here to race their bikes. For January, it’s a really good race. I’m glad the team decided to race here this year.”