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Experienced domestique Hollenstein returns to Tour after three years of absence

He is certainly one of the tallest riders in the Tour de France this year, Reto Hollenstein. At almost two meters tall, he is about to return to the biggest stage race in the world.

From 2014 to 2017, the Swiss skyscraper raced four consecutive Tour de Frances. After three years of absence, the experienced domestique returns to the country of wine and cheese.

“My main target is to support our team leader, sprinter, and help the team with daily stage goals,” Hollenstein said. “I am happy the team chose me for this job.”

The 35-year-old has had 26 race days so far this season, piloting, in his thirteenth year as a professional bike rider, Michael Woods to good results in the Volta a Catalunya, spring classics, Tour de Romandie and the Critérium du Dauphiné, as well as closing down gaps for Ben Hermans in the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month.

“My preparation towards the Tour de France has been good,” Hollenstein says. “I’ve done an altitude camp with some of the other riders going to the Tour in May, and that was one of the most fun and successful training camps I did so far in my career.”

Criterium du Dauphine 2021 – 73rd Edition – 8th stage La Lechere Les-Bains – Les Gets 147 km – 06/06/2021 – Reto Hollenstein (SUI – Israel Start-Up Nation) – Alexander Cataford (CAN – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

He laughed, joked, and trained hard with Omer Goldstein, Chris Froome, and Alexis Renard on Tenerife. “That training camp gave me a lot of morale to train even harder this season.”

His efforts on the bike, performances in races, and big heart for teammates to achieve their goals, resulted in a spot in the line-up for the world’s biggest race.

“I am looking forward to battling three weeks on French roads with my teammates. The team morale is very good, we know each other well after having spent quite a bit of time on the road together, and we are motivated to achieve our goals. I am honored and proud that I am part of this line-up.”

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Jakob Fuglsang returns to the Tour de Suisse podium in third overall – Astana

Jakob Fuglsang returns to the Tour de Suisse podium in third overall

Jakob Fuglsang fought until the finish line on the eighth and final stage of the Tour de Suisse, where he crossed the line in ninth place to move back onto the General Classification podium.

‘After yesterday’s not so good day, I was fully motivated to try something today to make it onto the podium or end this week with a stage win. On the last ascent, I heard that Schachmann had a gap and therefore I knew I need to go all in and just gave all I had in the final last kilometres. The week was a mixed one, the mountain stages went quite good with almost a stage win, but the time trial days were, let’s say, not my best ones. I am happy with my podium spot and it shows me that I am on the right path towards my next big objective, which is the Olympic Games. Now I am heading home for the Nationals Championship and then the Tour de France so there are some important races coming up and I think I am heading in a good direction,” said Jakob Fuglsang.

The last day of the Tour de Suisse was this year’s queen stage with riders facing more than 160 brutal kilometres with two category one climbs and the iconic HC climb, the Gotthardpass.

Right from the start, Astana – Premier Tech was active at the front of the race with Basque rider Omar Fraile, who showed incredible form throughout the race, representing the Kazakh-Canadian team for many kilometres in the breakaway.

Approaching the final climb of the day, the breakaway fell apart and Fraile went back to help his teammates in positioning Fuglsang for the decisive part of the stage.

The Danish rider was motivated and dug deep to drop a few of his opponents on the final climb while on the descent, he was able to open a gap to his rivals, who were ahead of him in the General Classification at the start of the day. Fuglsang pushed hard on the run into the finish trying to bridge to the leading duo and eventually crossed the line in the reduced GC group with enough of an advantage to see him round out the podium, one minute 15 seconds behind winner Richard Carapaz.

“We played our last card today to get Jakob on the podium and I’m happy we were able to do it. Jakob worked hard in the lead up to the race, he arrived here in good condition and he demonstrated a good level in the mountains. He came close to a stage win and unfortunately, just missed out with second place on stage five. He did a great race and everything he has done this week will help him to arrive at the Tour de France in top condition. The team worked really well for Jakob and I’m happy with how we raced this week,” added Bruno Cenghialta, Astana – Premier Tech Sports Director.

Tour de Suisse

Stage 8: Andermatt > Andermatt (159.5km)

Top 3: 1. Gino Mäder (Bahrain – Victorious), 2. Michael Wood (Israel Start-Up Nation), 3. Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck – Quick Step)

Astana – Premier Tech top 3: 9. Jakob Fuglsang, 23. Hugo Houle, 31. Stefan De Bod

Top 3 on GC: 1. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers), 2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education – Nippo), 3. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana – Premier Tech)

Photo: Getty Images

— Phoebe Haymes to www.astanapremiertech.com