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Having attacked on the lower slopes of the cobbled Kahlenberg in Vienna, Backaert soloed to victory in the final stage of the Tour of Austria; Hirt finished safely to secure the overall win ahead of Martin and Schelling

Photo: Josef Vaishar/
















09.07.2016 @ 18:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) confirmed his classics potential by riding to a fantastic solo win on the final stage of the Tour of Austria. Attacking on the lower slopes of the cobbled Kahlenberg in Vienne, he put 9 seconds in Markus Eibegger (Felbermayr) and 14 seconds into a select group of favourites that included race leader Jan Hirt (CCC) who took the overall win ahead of Backaert’s teammate Guillaume Martin and Patrick Schelling (Vorarlberg).


With aggressive racing, Frederik Backaert has often shown himself on the cobbles and he has been regarded as one of the brightest Belgian talents for the Flemish classics. However, his aggressiveness has mostly been unrewarded and until today he hadn’t taken a single pro win.


That changed in the final stage of the Tour of Austria as the Belgian made use of his love for the cobbles to claim a solo victory. The stage finished at the top of the cobbled Kahlenberg climb in Vienna and with a powerful attack almost from the bottom, he claimed his maiden pro win in impressive fashion.


After yesterday’s sprint stage, there was one final uphill finish on the menu. The 179.8km stage started in Bad Tatzmannsdorf and had a tough start as the riders tackled a category 3 climb right from the drop of the flag. From there, the stage was almost completely flat and only had a total of 1553m of climbing. However, the stage had a nasty sting in its tail as it ended at the top of the Kahlenberg climb, one of the highest points in Vienna. The ascent averaged 8% over 3.9km and included sections of cobbles.


Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Astana) was the only non-starter when the peloton headed towards Vienna under a sunny sky. Like in every stage of the race, it was a very fast start with lots of attacks. The early climb made it a perfect chase to go on the offensive and it was no surprise to see Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) giving it a go. However, he was brought back before the top where Antwan Tolhoek (Roompot) beat Alessandro Vanotti (Astana) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis) in the KOM sprint, with the Italian securing the victory in the mountains competition.


After the climb, Thomas Koep (Stölting), Nick van der Lijke (Roompot), William Clarke (Drapac), Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Julien El Fares (Delko) managed to escape and after a big effort, Jannik Steimle (Felbermayr) made it across. While CCC took control in the peloton, the sextet managed to get an advantage of 2.30 at the 30km mark.


After 48km of racing, the gap had gone out to 4.45 but El Fares and Steimle were unable to keep up with their companions. The latter was in lone pursuit for a long time but finally gave up.


With Steimle back in the fold, his Felbermayr team started to chase as they wanted to set Markus Eibegger up for the final climb. After 70km of racing, they had reduced the gap to 4.15 and still got some help from the CCC team.


Perez beat Koep and Clarke in the first intermediate sprint at the 91.8km mark while the chase started to pay off. At the 110km mark, the gap had dropped to 3.20 and 10km later, CCC and Felbermayr had reduced it to just 1.20.


The escapees responded well and managed to increase the advantage to 2.20 before Perez beat van der Lijke and Clakre in the final intermediate sprint. For several kilometres, they kept the gap at around 2 minutes but inside the final 25km, Felbermayr and CCC upped the pace.


With 15km to go, the gap was only 1.20 and that prompted Koep to make a solo bid for victory. The German had a 20-second advantage at the 10km-to-go banner but as Bardiani took over the pace-setting, he finally had to surrender.


Drapac upped the pace as they approached the Kahlenberg, working hard for stage 3 winner Brendan Canty. Wanty-Groupe Gobert took over on the lower slopes on the climb and then set Backaert up for his attacks when they hit the cobbles.


Canty tried to follow the strong Belgian but he was dropped quickly. From there, Backaert maintained his speed all the way to the line to claim the win. David Belda (Roth) gave chase but was passed by Eibegger who finished second with a time loss of 9 seconds while Belda led a group of favourites to the finish five seconds later.


Jan Hirt crossed the line at the back of that group and that was enough to secure the overall win with an advantage of 1.17 over Guillaume Martin (Wanty) and 1.29 over Patrick Schelling (Vorarlberg). Backaert won the points competition and Vanotti was the best climber. Hermann Pernsteiner (Amplatz) was the best Austrian and Wanty took a dominant victory in the teams classification.


The series of summer races continues on Tuesday when the WorldTour race Tour de Pologne kicks off.



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