Simon Yates is the winner of the 2021 Tour of the Alps. The leader of Team BikeExchange stamped his authority on a race full of top-class contenders through Tirol, Südtirol and Trentino, embellished by 13 World Teams at the start and many of the most expected riders for the upcoming Giro d’Italia.
Yates’s success was built on his emphatic success in stage 2, from Innsbruck to Feichten im Kaunertal, and then he went on to finish in the wake at Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) in the awaited fourth stage from Naturns/Naturno to Valle del Chiese / Pieve di Bono, and finally kept things under control with his teammates in the last effort, the fifth stage from Valle del Chiese / Idroland to Riva del Garda (120,9 km), entirely run in Trentino.
Stepping on the podium with the 28-year-old Briton, the first overall winner to wear the new Melinda green jersey, were Spaniard Pello Bilbao, second at 58 seconds, and Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-PremierTech), third at 1:04. Congratulating the riders on the podium was the President of the Autonomous Province of Trento Maurizio Fugatti; also in attendance in Riva del Garda where the President of the European Cycling Union Enrico della Casa, the President of the Italian Cycling Federation Cordiano Dagnoni, the Italian Federal Councilor Gianantonio Crisafulli and the CEO of Trentino Marketing Maurizio Rossini.
Even the last stage of an eventful edition delivered an entertaining show: the winner was Felix Großschartner of Team Bora-Hansgrohe, the first Austrian capable of taking a stage success since the advent of the Tour of the Alps in 2017.
Großschartner presented himself alone at the finish line in Riva del Garda, after having emerged from a numerous breakaway started after 25 km on the Selle Giudicarie ascent. The action was started by Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) quickly joined by teammate Daniel Martin, Matteo Fabbro and Felix Großschartner (Bora-hansgrohe), Tejay Van Garderen (EF Education- Nippo), Tony Gallopin, François Bidard (Ag2r-Citroen), Michael Storer and Nicolas Roche (Team DSM), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Vadim Pronskiy (Astana-PremierTech), Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Victorious), Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Ivan Ramiro Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers), Georg Steinhauser (Tirol-KTM) and Callum Scotson (BikeExchange).
The group led by Team BikeExchange remained constantly in control, always keeping the margin under 2 minutes and 30 seconds. In the final circuit, featuring the ramps of the Tenno climb and the subsequent fast descent towards Riva del Garda, to be repeated twice, Großschartner placed the right shot right at the start of the final lap, chased at a distance by De Marchi and Roche. However, no one was able to bring back the Austrian, who raised his arms.
34 seconds on the Roche-De Marchi duo and 40 seconds on the group led by Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers), fourth, and featuring all the top GC performers, including Simon Yates’ green jersey.
“We knew it could have been a stage for me, and already last night with the team we had decided to try to go for it,” said Großschartner. “I had been showing off during the last days, but the legs weren’t feeling as good as today. It’s a valuable victory, achieved ahead of plenty of strong riders, and I want to dedicate it to my uncle, who passed away last year: he was my biggest fan, and today I know I would have made him happy. For the Austrians, the Tour of the Alps is a great opportunity to race at the highest levels on home roads, something that doesn’t happen every day. It’s nice to race one of the most important – and tough – one-week races in front of your fans.”
Next on for Großschartner will be the Giro d’Italia, as for Simon Yates, who returns from the Tour of the Alps with a green jersey in his suitcase and full of confidence for the pink challenge. “I am very happy with this result, and with my and the team’s performance. There’s never an easy stage at the Tour of the Alps, but today it was mostly about staying alert and avoid any inconvenience. The Tour of the Alps has confirmed that we did a good job in preparation for the Giro: tomorrow I will go on recognition on the Sega di Ala finish, and then I will take a few days to recover and get to Turin in the best possible condition.”
“I have had a fantastic week at the Tour of the Alps, filled with incredible landscapes and views. I hope to be back soon, and not just as a rider,” concluded Yates.
Taking the other race’s classifications were Alessandro de Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation), winner of the KOM Gruppo Cassa Centrale light-blue jersey, Jefferson Cepeda (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), owner of the best youngster’s Würth Modyf white jersey, and Felix Engelhardt, winner of the Intermediate Sprints’ PMG Sport red jersey.
The beautiful sun of Riva del Garda warmed the last effort of this edition, in which the GS Alto Garda organizing company has managed to deliver a high-level race despite the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for a race involving two nations. The success of the 2021 Tour of the Alps rewards two years of hard work before returning on the road, after the forced stop of 2020, with appreciation coming also from the riders and the attending media. The Tour of the Alps is back and now can look forward. Or better, Uphill, as its mantra says.