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With a late attack from a 10-rider group, Kangert put 10 seconds into his chasers to win the Giro del Trentino queen stage, moving into second overall 8 seconds behind Landa; Konrad won the sprint for second

Photo: Sirotti

ASTANA - PREMIER TECH

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MIKEL LANDA

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PATRICK KONRAD

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ROMAIN BARDET

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TANEL KANGERT

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TEAM SKY

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TOUR OF THE ALPS

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21.04.2016 @ 16:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tanel Kangert benefited from strength in numbers for Astana to come out on top in the tactical battle that decided the Giro del Trentino queen stage. The Estonian launched a strong solo attack from a 10-rider group in the flat run-in to the finish and put 10 seconds into his chasers who were led to the finish by Patrick Konrad (Bora-Argon 18) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r). Mikel Landa (Sky) was isolated in the finale but retained the lead with an 8-second advantage over Kangert.

 

Astana went into the Giro del Trentino with the big goal to win the race with Vincenzo Nibali and were on track when they won the team time trial. However, all their plans had to be changed after the first mountain stage when the captain lost more than 30 seconds to key rival Mikel Landa.

 

However, the formidable Kazakh team have more than one card to play and today they benefited from their strength in number to firmly move back into contention for the overall win. After Jakob Fuglsang had started the stage in second place, 10 seconds behind Landa, it was Tanel Kangert who exploited an isolated race leader’s difficult situation to win the queen stage and move into second overall, just 8 seconds behind the Basque leader.

 

Kangert made his move in the final 3 flat kilometres of a stage that included the steep and difficult Fai della Paganella climb in the finale. A 10-rider group had gathered on the top and as Landa was unable to control the many attacks in the flat run-in to the finish, he had to let the Estonian go. A strong effort saw him put 10 seconds into the group and with 10 bonus seconds on the line, he shaved a total of 10 seconds off his deficit.

 

Astana had upped the pace right from the bottom of the final climb and was breathing down the neck of lone leader Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon 18) and chasers Antonio Molina (Caja Rural) and Magno Nazaret (Brazil) on the lower slopes. They played their first card when Michele Scarponi took off but Landa was quick to respond with Fuglsang on his wheel. Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) and the AG2r pair of Romain Bardet and Domenico Pozzovivo joined the trio and as the pace went down, the aggressive Pirazzi tried a move.

 

Scarponi hit the front for Fuglsang but it was a big 20-rider group that gathered. Pirazzi tried again but the only effect of his attack was to bring the three escapees back into the fold.

 

Fuglsang was the next to try but the attentive Landa responded immediately, followed by Pozzovivo, Pirazzi and Sergey Firsanov (Gazprom). Landa went straight to the front and a big group gathered again. However, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) had again been distanced and was already far behind.

 

Ag2r had strength in numbers and played their first card when Hubert Dupont and Jean-Christophe Peraud made a move. Landa shut it down and responded immediately when Dupont and Egan Bernal (Androni) tried.

 

Peraud and Buchmann made short-lived attempt but it was the move by Bardet that made a difference. Landa, Fuglsang and Bernal followed and when the Dane accelerated, the latter was dropped.

 

The pace in the front trio went down and this allowed Firsanov, Pozzovivo, Patrick Konrad, Kangert, Peraud and Bernal to regain contact. Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18), Scarponi, Sergio Pardilla (Ag2r) and Dupont also made it back to create a 13-rider group. Konrad was lucky to avoid a near-crash before Pirazzi made it back to the group.

 

Landa patrolled on the front and easily shit down attacks from Pirazzi before Nibali briefly regained contact. That was a short-lived affair though as Peraud attacked immediately and as only Landa could follow, it briefly seemed like a difference had been made.

 

Fuglsang got back before Landa briefly tried to up the pace. When he slowed down, Pozzovivo regained contact and later Firsanov, Bernal, Bardel and Kangert also regained contact. Buchmann and Konrad were the final riders to get back, meaning that a 10-rider group had gathered.

 

Landa set a controlling pace and easily responded to the many attacks from Fuglsang and Buchmann. With 1km to the KOM sprint, Pozzovivo tried a move but again Landa shut it down. The Basque assumed his position on the front until Peraud accelerated 200m from the KOM sprint. He was countered by Fuglsang who led Landa and Firsanov over the top.

 

Fuglsang tried to accelerate on the descent but Landa, Bardet, Firsanov and Kangert followed. The group came back together and it was Landa who took control as they sped back towards Mezzolombardo. Peraud and Buchmann both took turns on the descent before the Frenchman briefly tried to attack but Landa responded attentively.

 

Kangert took over the pace-setting and led the group into the final 5km. Peraud tried a small attack as they hit the flat section but he failed to get clear.

 

The group came to a standstill which allowed Buchmann to make a small attack. However, it was Fuglsang’s and Firsanov’s move that forced Landa to go full gas to bring it back.

 

That opened the door for Kangert to make his move from the back of the group and he immediately got a big gap as Landa briefly had to recover. He sensed the danger and started to chase, getting some assistance from Firsanov, but it was already too late. Kangert maintained his speed and had time to celebrate his win before Konrad beat Bardet in the sprint for second 10 seconds later.

 

The result means that Landa now leads Kangert by 8 seconds as he goes into the final stage which is very difficult. It includes three climbs before the riders hit the brutally steep Forcella de Brez which averages 9.6% over 6km. The top comes 25km from the finish and after the descent, there are 17 rolling kilometres left of the race.

 

The queen stage

After yesterday’s first summit finish, there were more mountains on the menu in the queen stage which brought the riders over 204.6km from the Austrian city of Sillian to Mezzolombardo. After a slightly descending first half, the riders hit a category 1 climb before a flat section led them to the finish. In the finale, they did one lap of a 25km finishing circuit that consisted of the 11.6km climb of Fai della Peganella which averaged 7%. The top came 14km from the finish and after the descent, there were only 2.5 flat kilometres.

 

Danilo Celano (Amore e Vita) was the only non-starter when the peloton left Austria under a sunny and clear sky. Just like yesterday, it was a blistering start with constant attacks. Sky and Skydive Dubai controlled the peloton and tried to prevent dangerous groups from getting clear, and after 30km of racing, no one had managed to escape.

 

A break goes clear

After 40km of racing, six riders managed to escape but as Southeast had missed out, they closed the gap just two kilometers later. Bardiani took over the pac-setting before ten rides finally got clear. After 53km Evgeny Shanulov (Gazprom), Iuri Filosi (Nippo), Samuele Conti (South East), Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Argon), Antonio Molina (Caja Rural), Maher Hasnaoui (SkyDive), Marco Tizza (D'Amico Bottecchia ), Evgeny Zverkov (Norda Mg KVIS), Daniel Paul (Tirol Cycling) and Marco Zamparella (Amore & Vita) already had a gap of 2.53, as the field finally took a breather.

 

At the 57km mark, the gap had gone out to 3.15, and now Sky had taken control. They stabilized the situation, while Molina beat Benedetti and Paulus in the intermediate sprint after 70km, where the peloton crossed the line 3.39 later.

 

Nazaret bridges across

After two hours, the riders had had an impressive average speed of 46.8 km/h, and the gap was still 3.00. At the bottom of the day's first climb, it was aorund 3.30.

 

Magno Nazaret (Brazil) attacked from the peloton and impressively bridged across to the leaders. Later Hasnaoui was dropped from the front group and Jens Mouris (Drapac) was the first rider to get dropped from the peloton. Lachlan Norris (Drapac) tried an attack and while he chased around 1.50 behind the leaders, Nazaret tried to split the front group. He succeeded before Molina won the KOM sprint ahead of the Brazilian, Zamparella, Benedetti and Tizza.

 

The break splits up

Filosi, Benedetti ,Tizza, Nazareth and Zamparella gathered in front and reached the summit 2.24 ahead of the peloton, but they lost ground on the descent. With 74 km to go, the gap was only 1.50 while Sky held the race firmly under control an iron grip. Only 47 seconds were left four kilometers later.

 

Filosi, Benedetti and Tizza got a small gap on the descent, but Nazareth, Molina and Zamparella got back. With 50km to go, the six riders were 48 seconds ahead of the peloton, now led by Sky and Astana.

 

Carthy goes down

Zamparella was distanced from the break before Paulus and Shalunov bridged the gap, meaning that seven riders had gathered in the front. With 35km to go, Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) was involved in a small crash that split the field, with a small group working hard to regain contact. That didn’t slow the peloton down though as Alex Peters and Xabier Zandio were working hard for Sky.

 

The escapees managed to push the advantage out to 1.24 and it had even reached 1.50 with 27km to go. Meanwhile, Fabricio Ferrari brought Carthy back to the peloton.

 

Astana split the field

Entering the Mezzolombardo, the fight for position intensified significantly and the Sky riders were getting swamped as they reached the finish for the first time. The peloton crossed the line 1.10 behind the leaders as Italy and Astana were fighting hard for the front positions.

 

The Kazakhs won the battle and it was Eros Capecchi who led the peloton onto the climb. Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev took over before Valerio Agnoli split the peloton to pieces, quickly neutralizing an attack from Michele Scartezzini (MG.Kvis) and Antonio Nibali (Nippo).

 

Further up the road, Benedetti split the group and only Nazaret and Molina could follow. He quickly dropped his companions but his gap was melting away as Davide Malacarne had now taken over in the peloton, setting Scarponi up for the attack that started the finale.

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