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Being the final team to start, Katusha stopped the clock in 5.45 to go one second faster than MTN-Qhubeka and win the team prologue at the Tour of Austria; Selig took the overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

KATUSHA ALPECIN

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NTT PRO CYCLING TEAM

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RUDIGER SELIG

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TOUR OF AUSTRIA 

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04.07.2015 @ 13:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Katusha got the Tour of Austria off to the perfect start when they took a narrow victory in the 5.3km team prologue in Vienna. The team beat MTN-Qhubeka by less than a second to put Rudiger Selig into the first leader’s jersey in the 9-day race.

 

Most have their eyes on the Tour de France but for those who missed out on selection for the biggest race, the Tour of Austria is a big opportunity to show that they had deserved to be in France. With its 9 days of mountainous racing it is one of the hardest race on the calendars and several WorldTour teams have gathered strong rosters.

 

One of them is Katusha who have lined up a team to support Daniel Moreno who decided not to go for the Tour and they got the race off to the perfect start when they were the fastest in the short 5.3km team prologue in a Vienna. In a nail-biting finale, powerhouses like Gatis Smukulis, Rudiger Slig and Vladimir Isaychev escorted their climbers around the course in 5.45 which was faster than anybody else.

 

The Russian team was the final starters and destroyed the day for MTN-Qhubeka who had led the stage for most of the day. The South African team had set a time of 5.46 and had held off the challenges of the likes of BMC, IAM and Cannondale-Garmin who were expected to be among their biggest rivals.

 

However, Katusha turned out to be even faster than the South Africans, stopping the clock in a time that was less than a second faster. BMC had to settle for third with a time loss of 5 seconds while Cofidis took fourth.

 

Selig was the first Katusha rider to cross the line and so he will war the yellow jersey in tomorrow’s first stage. At 206.6km, it is a long affair but with only a category 3 and category 4 climb in the finale of a mostly flat day, a bunch sprint is expected and so Selig has a chance to make it two in a row.

 

A short prologue

The 67th Tour of Austria kicked off with a short 5.3km team prologue in the city of Vienna. The course was completely flat and wasn’t took technical, meaning that it was a day for the powerful riders.

 

Like the rest of Europe, Austria had very hot conditions when WSA rolled down the start ramp as the first team. They were not really in the running for the win and Hrinkow was also off the pace.

 

Felbermayr takes the lead

The first team to do faster than 6 minutes was the Amplatz team which stopped the clock in 5.58 to take an early lead. Voralberg and Tirol were unable to challenge that mark and so Amplatz held the lead when most of the continental teams had finished the stage.

 

Bardiani was the first pro team but they could only manage 6.11. Roompot got closer with a time of 5.59 but it was the continental Felbermayr that finally improved the mark with a time of 5.55.

 

MTN-Qhubeka take control

Cult was off the pace as they could only manage 6.06 but most already had their eyes on MTN-Qhubeka who were among the favourites. The South African team put Natnael Berhane in a good position to challenge for GC by stopping the clock in 5.46 to take the lead.

 

Wanty-Groupe Gobert were unable to match that mark but Cofidis did much better by slotting into second. The Marseille team could only manage 6.02. CCC was also off the pace but there were bigger expectations for IAM. Unfortunately, their time of 5.53 was only good enough for second.

 

Katusha take the win

Cannondale-Garmin set the exact same time to keep GC contenders Tom Jelte Slagter and Moreno Moser in a good position while Ag2r also saw their climbers Rinaldo Nocentini, Pierre Roger Latour and Hubert Dupont staying in contention as they set a time of 5.56. BMC were expected to be in the battle for the stage win but their time of 5.50 saw them miss out by four seconds.

 

The many climbers in the Tinkoff-Saxo team lost a lot of time as they could only manage 6.12. Hence. Only Katusha could potentially destroy the MTN-Qhubeka party and they managed to do so by going one second faster.

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