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Petrov takes his first victory in Tinkoff-Saxo colours by emerging as the strongest from an 11-rider breakaway; Kennaugh finishes third and extends his overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

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EVGENI PETROV

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PETER KENNAUGH

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11.07.2014 @ 18:23 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Evgeny Petrov took his first win since joining the Tinkoff-Saxo team when he took a huge solo victory in the final mountain stage of the Tour of Austria. Having been part of an 11-rider breakaway, the Russian dropped his companions on the final climb and rode solo to the finish while race leader Peter Kennaugh (Sky) marked his rivals closely, finished third and extended his overall lead with two stages to go.

 

Last year Evgeny Petrov joined the Tinkoff-Saxo team as then sponsor Oleg Tinkov wanted more Russian riders on the roster. Today he paid back his team for the confidence by winning one of the most prestigious stages of the Tour of Austria in solo fashion.

 

Petrov was attentive from the start of the stage that included three big category 1 climbs, and made it into an 11-rider group that dominated the race. He survived the first two climbs and finally dropped his companions on the final ascent.

 

While his chasers were all caught by a select group of favourites, Petrov held on to take the victory, holding off Dayer Quintana (Movistar) and Peter Kennaugh (Sky) who were the strongest among the race favourites. The victory is his first since he won a memorable stage to L’Aquila in the 2010 Giro d’Italia.

 

After yesterday’s breakaway win for Jesse Sergent, the Tour of Austria continued with a hard mountain stage that brought the riders over 182.6km from St. Johann to a summit finish in Villach-Dobratsch. The first part of the stage contained two big category 1 climbs before a flat section led to the bottom of the final category 1 ascent which summited just 200m from the line.

 

Again the riders took off in rainy conditions but that didn’t dampen the aggressive spirit. The first part was very fast until a 12-rider group got clear shortly before they hit the first climb. Stephan Rabitsch, Michael Gogl, Gregor Mühlberger Clemens Fankhauser, KOM leader Maxim Belkov, Bob Jungels, Evgeny Petrov, Lawrence Warbasse, Francesco Gavazzi, Francis de Greef, Donato de Ieso und Nicolas Baldo made up the group but Gogl fell off already before the hit ascent. For a long time, he tried to stay clear but finally surrendered.

 

After Jungels had won the first intermediate sprint, they started to climb and this was too much for Mühlberger and Rabitsch who fell off the pace. As expected, Belkov took maximum points at the top while Sky was setting a steady pace in the peloton, allowing the gap to grow to 8 minutes.

 

They got some assistance from Gourmetfeil and those two teams combined forces to keep the gap stable between the 7- and 8-minute marks. Meanwhile, Gavazzi won the second intermediate sprint.

 

On the second climb, Belkov dropped off which allowed Fankhauser to take maximum points on the top. However, the Russian managed to rejoin the group on the descent.

 

In the valley, Cannondale joined the chase work and now the gap started to come down. Jungels won the final intermediate sprint but as they hit the bottom of the final climb, the escapees were only 3 minutes ahead.

 

Belkov fell off the pace while Petrov attacked from the bottom. Jungels was his nearest chaser while Fankhauser, De Ieso, Gavazzi and Warbasse were a little further back.

 

Jungels was passed by De Ieso and joined by Warbasse but they continued to lose ground to the yellow jersey group. The battle between the favourites was on and a group made up of Riccardo Zoidl (Trek), Quintana, Kennaugh, Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff) and Javier Moreno (Movistar) passed all Petrov’s chasers.

 

Petrov dug deep and managed to hold on to take the victory while Quintana crossed the line 30 seconds later. Kennaugh was third at 32 seconds and so extended his overall lead as nearest rival Damiano Caruso (Cannondale) could only manage 7th.

 

Kennaugh now takes a 1.02 lead over Moreno into tomorrow’s 24.1km time trial. The course is completely flat and expected to be one for the specialists.

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