Winning helps to win, or so they say. What’s for sure is that such formula works for Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers) who, after nearly three years without success, he managed to claim two significant ones in the space of three days at the Tour of the Alps.
The Italian rider from Trentino conquered the third stage of the Euroregional stage race, which made its way back to Italy on Wednesday April 21st, from Imst (Tirol) to Naturns/Naturno (Südtirol), over 162 km with nearly 3000 meters of elevation gain.
It was a tough stage for hard-nose attackers, and indeed 15 riders forced their way out of the peloton on the Piller Sattel ascent that was already seen during stage 2: Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers), Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Antonio Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Tejada (Astana), Fabbro and Grosschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe), Van Garderen (EF-Education Nippo), De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation), Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Victorious), Bidard and Gallopin (AG2R-Citroen), Storer (Team DSM), Ravasi and Christian (Eolo-Kometa).
A puncture on the Piller Sattel immediately put Pinot out of contention, while Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) rejoined the escapees, who earned a maximum of 2:30 on the peloton paced by Team BikeExchange.
Leader Simon Yates’ squad further upped the pace through the Vinschgau/Val Venosta, as they approached the tough and technical Frinig ascent. On the ramps leading the summit of Maso Albergad, the breakaway lost several pieces, whilst on the descent Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) was victim of a slide, in which he suffered several grazes on the right side of his body.
On the final Tarsch/Tarres drag, Grossschartner and Moscon forced the pace, taking Storer and Fabbro in their wake, while Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) launched himself from the peloton at the chase of the leaders.
In the final flat kilometers, Bilbao and the other fugitives tried to get back on the four escapees, but bridged over only in the very last meters: it went down to a head to head between Moscon and Grossschartner, with the Trentino native celebrating again. Third place for Fabbro, ahead Storer and De Marchi, the new owner of the best climber’s Gruppo Cassa Centrale light blue jersey.
“On Monday I broke the ice in Innsbruck, now I have regained my confidence and feeling with victory,” Moscon commented after the race. “The stage was clearly suited for long-run breakaways, with its challenging profile. In the final kilometers we were down to four and insisted in our action until the finish: it worked out well. Dreaming of a hat-trick in my Trentino might seem too much right now: tomorrow we are expected by a hard and important stage, and we are ready to stand by Pavel Sivakov, hoping that hoping that his fall will leave no significant aftermath.”
Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) confidently handled the race with his team and retained the green Melinda leader’s jersey by finishing 49 seconds behind the winner, though a dangerous rival like Pello Bilbao has managed to gain some valuable ground. “Today we were able to control the race, the team did a great job, and I was able to save some energy for tomorrow. Tomorrow it will be a very demanding stage, Sivakov is looking strong, and Bilbao has also got closer in the standings today, moving to third place. So far, I am really enjoying this Tour of the Alps: we race in a beautiful area, on fantastic roads and so far the weather has also been better than expected: let’s hope to continue like this.”
Yates leads in the GC with 45 seconds on Sivakov, 1:04 on Bilbao and Dan Martin (Israel Start-up Nation) and 1:08 on Vlasov (Astana PremierTech) and the white Würth Modyf jersey of Jefferson Cepeda (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec). The red PMG Sport jersey of the intermediate sprints leader remained on the shoulders of Felix Engelhardt (Tirol-KTM Cycling Team).
Tomorrow, Thursday, April 22nd, one of the most anticipated stages of this Tour of the Alps is taking place: Naturns/Naturno-Valle del Chiese/Pieve di Bono (168.4 km), with the ascents of the Hofmahdjoch/Passo Castrin, the highest peak of this Tour of the Alps, Passo Campo Carlo Magno, and the hard and unprecedented final climb of Boniprati, tough to handle both on the ascent and the descent, that will leave the riders with just 800 meters to go to the first Trentino’s stage finish this year. Tomorrow will make a huge difference in the run for the final success in Riva del Garda: everybody, from Simon Yates to each of his rivals, will have to show his cards.
In the morning in Imst, the Uno-X Cycling Team had abandoned the race due to a positive COVID test of a team member, who had reported flu-like symptoms. Out of a sense of responsibility and to safeguard everybody’s health, the team autonomously chose to abandon the race, and isolate its members. Later in the day, the whole team underwent new PCR tests: all resulted negative, including one of the members who had initially tested positive.
“We were very saddened to see the Uno-X Cycling Team leaving the race, after showing in recent days that they fully deserved their opportunity in a race like this, – GS Alto Garda President Giacomo Santini told, – but we are sure that the best possible decision was taken in this situation, showing fairness and responsibility towards the race and everybody involved, and we are grateful to them for that. We wish them the best of luck in their upcoming fixtures, and look forward to welcoming them back to the Tour of the Alps in the future.”