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Having attacked on the lower slopes of the short, steep Sonntagberg, Canty soloed to a first pro win in stage 3 of the Tour of Austria; Eibegger finished second and took the yellow jersey on the eve of the queen stage

Photo: Paumer Kare Dhelie Thorstad

BRENDAN CANTY

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DRAPAC PORSCHE CYCLING

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FELBERMAYR

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MAREK RUTKIEWICZ

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MARKUS EIBEGGER

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TOUR OF AUSTRIA 

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05.07.2016 @ 18:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Brendan Canty (Drapac) again showed why he is regarded as one of the biggest climbing talents by claiming an impressive solo victory in the third stage of the Tour of Austria. Having attacked on the lower slopes of the short, steep Sonntagberg, he put 11 seconds into Markus Eibegger (Felbermayr) and 17 seconds into Marek Rutkiewicz (Wibatech) but it was Eibegger who moved into the race lead with a four-second advantage over the Australian.

 

Last autumn the cycling world realized that Australia had a new top climber in the making. Riding as a stagiaire for the Drapac team, Brendan Canty mixed it up with the best in the queen stage at the Abu Dhabi Tour.

 

The result earned him a pro contract with the Australian team and he immediately proved that his performance in the desert was no fluke. In the queen stage at the Tour of Oman, he battled it out with the likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Romain Bardet and finished the stage in 8th before going on to win the white jersey as best young rider.

 

A few weeks ago, Canty told Cyclingnews that his next goal was to shine at the Tour of Austria and the Volta a Portugal. Today he proved that he is ready for the WorldTour by claiming a maiden pro win in the first uphill finish at the former race.

 

After two days of recovery, the GC riders faced their irst real battle in stage 3 which has the first uphill finish in the race. The 181.3km between Ardagger and the Sonntagberg had 3084m of climbing so it was not a big mountain stage but the finale was difficult. There were two tough category 2 climbs in the first half and then the road leveled out. However, it was all just a warm-up for the finish on the category 3 climb of Sonntagberg (3.9km, 8.6%) which had a maximum gradient of 20% and a very steep first section and steep cobbled finale.

 

There were no non-starters when the peloton gathered under a sunny sky and they got the race off to the usual fast start. However, the break was established earlier than in the past days as Marcin Mrozek (CCC), Alessandro Vanotti (Astana), Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Alexey Rybalkin (Gazprom) already escaped after 10km of racig.

 

However, the peloton was not willing to let them go and for a long time, they fought hard to maintain a 30-second advantage. That allowed Frederik Backaert (Wanty) to bridge across while the local continental teams were chasing hard.

 

Backaert beat Mrozek and Vanotti in the first intermediate sprint at the 27km mark where the peloton had calmed down. They let the gap grow to 3 minutes before the Roth team of race leader Andrea Pasqualon hit the front. However, they were not really chasing yet and when Vanotti beat Mrozek and Rybalkin in the first KOM sprint after 38km of racing, they were 3.40 behind.

 

Matthias Krizek did the early work for Roth but he was unable to prevent the gap from going out to 4.15 at the 60km mark. That’s where they started to really chase and 10km later, the escapees had lost one miute of their lead.

 

Mrozek beat Vanotti and Perez in the second KOM sprint and as the peloton took it easy on the climb, the gap went out to 4.40. Returning to flatter terrain, Roth again upped the pace and as they reached the 100km mark, the escapees were only 3.15 ahead.

 

The Felbermayr team of Markus Eibegger and Stephan Rabitsch joined forces with Roth on the front of the bunch and when the gap had dropped to 2 minutes, Roompot also came to the fore, working for Pieter Weening and Antwan Tolhoek. Meanwhile, Rybalkin was dropped from the break before Backaert beat Vanotti and Perez in the second intermediate sprint.

 

Roompot and Roth did all the work in the peloton but they were unable to prevent the escapees from increasing their advantage to 2.40 at the 145km mark. Hence, Felbermayr again came to the fore and as a consequence, the gap was down to 2 minutes with 25km to go.

 

Backaert beat Vanotti and Perez in the final intermediate sprint where the peloton crossed the line 1.25 later. With three teams working well together, the break as doomed and it was all back together with less than 15km to go.

 

Bardiani and CCC hit the front as the fight for position started. Stefano Pirazzi (Bardian) then made a solo move but he was brought back before they hit the Sonntagberg. They had barely started to climb before Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani) took off and he was quickly joined by Canty. The pair opened a 30-second advantage while the peloton splintered to pieces.

 

Canty felt stronger than Bongiorno whom he dropped with less than 2km to go. Further back, the attacking started but it was too late to catch the Australian who soloed to victory. Markus Eibegger reached the fiish 11 seconds later before Marek Rutkiewicz beat Hermann Pernsteiner (Amplatz) and Guillaume Martin (Wanty) in a sprint for third, 17 seconds behind the lone winner.

 

After a good prologue, Eibegger takes over the overall lead with a four-second advantage over Canty while Rutkiewicz is 9 seconds further behind in third. He faces a difficult first day in yellow as stage 4 is the queen stage of the race. The total amount of climbing is 3910m but it almost all comes at the end. The first part is completely flat and then the terrain gradually gets a bit more undulating with two small category 3 climbs that serve as a warm-up for the finale. The stage ends on the HC climb of the Edelweisspitze which is just part of the famous Grossglockner climb that features on the course every year. The final 14.2km average a massive 10.1%, making it one of the hardest climbs in Europe.

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