Team Sky might be living its final days in cycling as a name, but the future of Sir David Brailsford’s team seems to be in very safe hands – and to just for the takeover from Mr. Ineos. For the second time in as many days at the Tour of the Alps, the British team celebrated on the final podium with one of their prospect for a future that seems increasingly close. After Tao Geoghagan Hart in Kufstein, on Tuesday April 23rd it was Russian Pavel Sivakov who celebrated his first pro win in the 2nd stage of the Euroregional race, from Reith im Alpbachtal (Tyrol) to Scena/Schenna (Südtirol) over 178,7 km, and taking over the GC leader’s jersey.
Sivakov authoritatively edged the duel with Czech Jan Hirt (Astana) on the dreadful gradients of Scena/Schenna’s Schlossweg – though the race had lit up long before. The morning breakaway – Acosta Ospina (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Amador Castano (Manzana Postobon), Samitier (Euskadi-Murias), Visconti (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia), Zardini (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia) and Rocchetti (Team Colpack) – took the front in the early race, but both the group and the gap went splintering on the tough Passo Giovo/Jaufenpass ramps, whose clean roads were framed by snow in the final kilometers.
First on the top of the highest climb of the Tour of the Alps was Spaniard Sergio Samitier, the new KOM leader, followed by Zardini a few seconds behind, whilst the peloton led by Bahrain-Merida had erased the gap to the leader on the final kilometers uphill, and passed on the top with less than a minute to close, and still about 20 riders.
As advertised, the demanding and technical descent made more selections: Samitier remained clear with a minimal margin, and behind him Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) tried to break away twice, finding the timely reply by Bora and Team Sky. The decisive move came with 10 km to go, when Sivakov, Pernsteiner (Bahrain-Merida), Stalnov and Hirt (Astana), Poljanski (Bora-Hansgrohe), Cattaneo and Masnada (Androni-Sidermec) broke away and joined Samitier, relaunching the action and opening a 20-second gap on the Nibali’s and Froome’s group.
Entering in Scena/Schenna, the Team Sky Russian forced the pace, followed by Hirt, and then distaced the Czech on the tough final ramp. His well deserved joy for the first career pro win was shared in a hug with Tao Geoghegan Hart, 8th on the day. Mattia Cattaneo came in third, Majka and Nibali were 6th and 7th at 34 seconds, whilst Froome gave up 1.34: the two youngsters are due to share the Team Sky leader’s grades.
“It was a chaotic finale,” told the 1997-born Russian. “The descent was very selective, and I did it at the front to avoid any risk. When I saw Stalnov, Poljanski and Pernsteiner were accelerating, I realized that hardly somebody would have taken charge of the chase. Nibali and Majka were watching Tao very closely, and I had more freedom to seize.”
“I felt the strongest in the leading group,” told Sivakov, who is also leader of the young riders’ GC, “and having Tao behind me I could sit up and wait. When I dug deep only Hirt held on, and then I distanced even him in the final meters. The first pro win is an amazing reward for all the efforts, and to take it here in front of so many champions is awesome. Italy is clearly my lucky place.” It was a finale to remember also for Scena/Schenna, at its first time as stage city in a major cycling event, offering a breathtaking finale immersed in a festival of public and entertainment: a great show, on the road and beyond.”
From the longest stage to the shortest: tomorrow, Wednesday, the Tour of the Alps will take in stage 3, only 106,3 km from Salorno/Salurn (Südtirol) to Baselga di Piné (Trentino). “It will be totally uncontrollable” said Sivakov, “with plenty of attacks. I expect it to be extremely hard, though very entertaining for the spectators. Also tomorrow we’ll have two cards to play, and we’ll try to make the most of them.”
Tour of the Alps stage 3 will be live on TV from 13.00 to 14.30 CET, thanks to the PMG Sport production.
TV: Eurosport 1 (Europe, Asia), RaiSport (Italy), TV2 (Denmark), Equipe TV (France), Eurosport Italia (Italy), Bike Channel (Italy), Eleven (North America), EBU/Eurovisione, SkySport (New Zealand).
LIVE STREAMING: Eurosport Player (Europe, Asia, Australia), pmgsport.it, repubblica.it, tuttobiciweb.it, inbici.net, cicloweb.it, cyclingpro.net/spaziociclismo, lapresse.it, flobikes.com, (USA, Canada, South America, Asia, Australia, UK), globalcyclingnetwork.com (USA, Canada, South America), Facebook @PMGliveSport.