The first nine days of the Giro have been jam-packed with action – and stories. Last week seems to have been all about paradoxes – the good and the bad, the mouthy and the silent, the boring and the restful – in the form of Contador, Formolo, Flecha, Cipollini, Dowsett and Sagan (among others). Continue reading →
The Tour of Austria finished with overall victory for Jakob Fuglsang –the first by a Dane in the Tour – providing a much-needed boost for RadioShack-Nissan, albeit from one of their (many) want-away riders. Fuglsang had seized the lead and the yellow jersey from Danilo di Luca (Acque & Sapone) on the key Grossglockner mountain stage, and never let it escape from his clutches. At the race conclusion in Vienna, he said:
It’s particularly nice that I didn’t win by merely following, but also by taking a stage win. That’s always nicer. Since I took the jersey, the team worked really hard and made it easy for me. I did what I had to do in the time trial and the team helped me with everything else.
RadioShack also claimed the team classification while Fuglsang’s Austrian teammate Thomas Rohregger was the best-placed young rider to cap a successful week of racing. Team Type 1’s Georg Priedler won the mountains classification while teammate Alessandro Bazzana claimed the points jersey. VeloVoices was keeping an eye on young Colombian Carlos Betancur (Acqua & Sapone) who, having ridden in support of team leader di Luca, finished 19th overall and second in the young rider’s competition.
Jakob Fuglsang, winner of Tour of Austria 2012 (image courtesy of RadioShack-Nissan)
Stage 1: Innsbruck Circuit, 153km
Team Type 1’s 28 year-old Alessandro Bazzana took his first professional victory in the bunch sprint at the end of the circuit race around Innsbruck. Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) was runner-up and Marco Canola (Colnago-CSF Inox) finished third, while fourth-placed Georg Preideler was the best-placed Austrian.
Stage 2: Innsbruck to Kitzbuheler Horn, 157.4km
Danilo ‘the Killer’ di Luca (Aqua & Sapone) took the rain-soaked stage two, which included the climb of the Kitzbuheler Horn, ahead of Steve Morabito (BMC) and Thomas Rohregger (RadioShack). The stage started with the inevitable breakaway which was reeled in before the final climb thanks to work done by the WorldTour teams, notably RadioShack hoping to set up Jakob Fuglsang. He was part of a ten-man group which attacked on the climb but was ultimately distanced by the leading trio.
Having taken the leader’s jersey, the 36-year old Di Luca said after the race:
This was one of the hardest mountains I have ever ridden. The start of the stage was hectic and here up to the Kitzbuheler Horn I felt very comfortable. Right from the start I drove my tempo and slightly increased it on the last 2km and that was enough for stage victory.
Stage 3: Kitzbuhel to Lienz, 141.8km
Stage three finished in another bunch sprint, won this time by 25-year old Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF) ahead of Austrian Daniel Schorn (NetApp) and Francesco Gavazzi (Astana). Di Luca still held the overall from Morabito by 11 seconds.
Stage 4: Lienz to Skt. Johann/Alpendorf, 141.3km
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again and that’s what RadioShack-Nissan did on stage four. They animated the race from the start and Jakob Fuglsang delivered the team a fine victory to take the race leader’s yellow jersey.
The team sent four riders up the road forcing Acqua & Sapone on the defensive. The junction was made on the major difficulty of the day, the Grossglockner, 95km from the finish, at which point Fuglsang made his escape along with NetApp’s Leopold Konig. The duo managed to push the gap up above three minutes and with Fuglsang unsure whether his breakaway companion was sandbagging, he soloed off with 20km remaining to finish with more than a minute’s advantage over Konig. Afterwards he said:
I’m super happy with this win and the overall. It is certainly defendable and we’re going to do everything we can to bring the yellow home. It’s cool that the team has the yellow jersey in two different stage races [here and the Tour de France, where Fabian Cancellara was overall leader at the time – Ed].
Here’s how the stage was won:
Stage 5: Skt. Johann/Alpendorf to Sonntagberg, 228.3km
The race’s longest stage saw a successful breakaway go all the way to the line with victory for 27-year old Fabio Taborre (Acqua & Sapone) – the biggest of his career – ahead of compatriot Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Austrian Matthias Brandle (NetApp). The stage start was hectic with numerous attacks in the first 90km until a break formed that contained a dozen riders, none of whom threatened RadioShack’s GC lead. RadioShack patrolled the front of the peloton keeping the gap at a constant 12 minutes and covering moves by second-placed Di Luca and third-placed Morabito. The pair managed to gain back a few precious seconds on the leader, who finished in the pack some nine minutes down on the winner to remain in the leader’s jersey.
Stage 6: Waidhofen/Ybbs to Melk, 185.2km
Friday’s stage was harder than it looked, with riders battling for position and trying to get into a breakaway from the off. It was full gas on the undulating course with breaks getting away and then being pulled back by teams looking for a stage win, which rather suited RadioShack. In the end it came down to another bunch sprint and once more Modolo prevailed this time ahead of Daniele Colli (Team Type 1) and DaniloNapolitano (Acqua & Sapone). 21-year old neo-pro Marco Haller (Katusha) was the best-placed Austrian in fourth.
Stage 7: Podersdorf am Neusiedler See, 24.1km individual time trial
Four days after his place in the Italian team for London 2012 was confirmed, Marco Pinotti (BMC) beat Kristof Vandewalle (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) by some 32 seconds to take victory in the individual time trial. Frantisek Rabon (OPQS) was third, a further 20 seconds back. Race leader Fuglsang finished over a minute off the pace but had a sufficiently large enough cushion to retain the yellow jersey by 1:24 over Morabito. Robert Vrecer (Vorarlberg) was 28 seconds further back in third while di Luca – 46th on the day – dropped to fourth.
Stage 8: Podersdorf am Neusiedler See to Wien, Burgtheater, 122.8 km
The final stage was another circuit race, this time around Vienna, where the Italians recorded their seventh stage win with victory for Daniele Colli ahead of Alexey Tsatevich (Katusha) and Blaz Jarc (NetApp). The day’s breakaway, which never gained more than three minutes, was hauled back before the final two circuits setting up another bunch sprint finish. The podium was unchanged.
As anticipated, Fuglsang became the first Danish winner of the Tour, retaining the leader’s jersey which he’d won on the Grossglockner stage. It was his second overall win of the season after earlier prevailing in the Tour of Luxembourg.