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After a dramatic finale, Kangert came out on top in a 13-rider sprint at the end of the final stage of the Giro del Trentino; Landa managed to take third and so won the race overall with a 2-second advantage over Kangert

Photo: Sirotti

ASTANA - PREMIER TECH

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JAKOB FUGLSANG

RIDER PROFILE
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MIKEL LANDA

RIDER PROFILE
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TANEL KANGERT

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TEAM SKY

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TOUR OF THE ALPS

RACE PROFILE
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22.04.2016 @ 16:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tanel Kangert (Astana) did exactly what he had to do in his attempt to win the Giro del Trentino overall as he made it two in a row by winning the 13-rider sprint that decided the final stage, picking up 10 crucial bonus seconds in the process. However, Mikel Landa (Sky) just managed to pass Patrick Konrad (Bora-Argon 18) to take third and so took the overall win with a 2-second advantage over the Estonian by scoring four seconds. Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) completed the podium.

 

Going into the final stage of the Giro del Trentino, Mikel Landa knew that he found himself in a very difficult situation. Having been isolated in the previous stage and being up against several Astana and Ag2r riders that were all in GC contention, the race leader could find himself under severe attack if his rivals could again get rid of his teammates.

 

The final stage included the hardest climb of the entire race with 35km to go and after a long descent, a lumpy 14km circuit was the perfect opportunity to put Landa under pressure. Things panned out exactly as they wanted as the race leader was isolated in the finale but his rivals failed to benefit from the situation.

 

Philip Deignan made it back to his team captain and managed to control things until the final 7km. That made it easier for Landa but Astana still had a two-pronged attack with Tanel Kangert and Jakob Fuglsang who were just 8 and 10 seconds behind him in the overall standings respectively.

 

While Fuglsang attacked relentlessly, Kangert saved himself for the sprint, knowing that a stage win would be enough to take overall victory if Landa failed to finish in the top 10. And things seemed to have come together for the Estonian when he emerged as the fastest in the 13-rider sprint that ultimately decided the race.

 

Kangert may briefly have believed that he had won the race overall but Landa had plenty of luck in the final sprint. Despite being boxed in just a few metres from the line, he suddenly found an opening and managed to cross the line in third, picking up the four bonus seconds that allowed him to win the race overall.

 

The stage had really come to life on the Forcella di Brez climb with 40km to. Ag2r had taken complete control and led the peloton onto the climb 1.13 behind Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-Rusvelo). The steep climb took its toll immediately as Axel Domont’s fast pace made the group explode. Things weren’t any easier for Cunego who was dropped from the front group.

 

When Domont swung off, Gianni Moscon took over for Sky, leading his teammates David Lopez and Landa up the lower slopes of the climb, reducing the group to 15-20 riders and bringing the gap down to 35 seconds. As they went up the only easy part of the climb, Cunego was brought back.

 

The attacking started when Romain Bardet took off and Michele Scarponi was quick to respond. The veteran joined the Frenchman and they slowly managed to catch the leaders. Further back, Philip Deignan took over the pace-setting for Sky, reducing the group even further.

 

Fuglsang launched the next attack and with Landa, Sergey Firsanov (Gazprom-Rusvelo) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) glued to his wheel, he closed the gap to the four leaders. Nibali went straight to the front to work for his leader but when Bardet upped the pace, the Italian champion and Foliforov were distanced.

 

As the pace went down, the pair rejoined the group but the next attack from Pozzovivo spelled the end for them. Further back, a group with Jean-Christophe Peraud, Hubert Dupont (Ag2r), Emanuel Buchmann, (Bora-Argon 18), Tanel Kangert (Astana), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), Matto Busato (Southeast) and Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural) had gathered but they were not getting any closer to the leaders.

 

Pozzovivo set the pace in the final part of the climb. Firsanov attacked over the top of the climb but Landa, Fuglsang and Bardet responded. The Russian led the Spaniard and the Dane over the top before Pozzovivo and Scarponi rejoined them.

 

Kangert and Dupont attacked from the chase group and were in lone pursuit of the 6 leaders. Meanwhile Philip Deignan (Sky) and Patrick Konrad (Bora-Argon 18) made it back to the chasers.

 

There was no great cohesion in the front group as they went down the descent and so Nibali approached from behind after having dropped Foliforov. The ceasefire was broken when Bardet attacked but Landa was quick to respond. The Frenchman really tried to split the group and briefly got clear with Landa but after Fuglsang and Firsanov had made it back, the sextet gathered again.

 

Fuglsang made a strong attack and looked like he was riding away until Landa and Pozzovivo slowly reeled him in. pozzovivo and Scarponi were suffering but managed to get back just before Dupont and Kangert also made the junction.

 

Scarponi and Dupont used a small standstill to attack and as Landa was waiting for the Deignan group, they got clear. Moments later, the second group caught the Landa group and this was crucial for the race leader. Deignan went straight to the front, keeping the gap at around 15 seconds as they entered the final 20km. It was 12 seconds as they finished the descent and hit a small climb.

 

Pirazzi saw an immediate opportunity to jump across to the leaders and Busato joined the group shortly afterwards. The Bardiani rider tried to go straight past but after Scarponi had briefly suffered, the front quartet was back together.

 

There was no cooperation in the front group and so Busato and Pirazzi both tried to attack on the next climb but they failed to make a difference. Meanwhile, Deignan was just tapping out a steady tempo, keeping the gap at 10-15 seconds.

 

Due to the lack of cooperation in the front group, it was only a matter of time before the break as brought back. The junction was made with 10km to go and so it was a 15-rider group that gathered in front.

 

As they entered the final 10km, a 14-rider chase group was 1.09 behind the leader but due to Deignan’s fast pace, it was evident that they would not get back.

 

The attacking started when they hit a small climb with 7km to go and it was Pirazzi who opened the battle. Fuglsang joined him and the Dane made an immediate counterattack. As Peraud was unable to hold his wheel, the Dane got a small gap. Landa had to dig deep to make it back but made the junction with Firsanov, Kangert, Bardet and Konrad on his wheel. As the pace went down, the group came back together with the exception of Deignan and Scarponi who had exploded.

 

Firanov set a brutal pace on the hardest climb of the circuit before Fugsalng attacked again. This time Firsanov and Landa responded and Bardet also made contact.

 

As the rest of the group rejoined the four leaders, Dupont took off in a solo move and he got an immediate gap. Firsanov set the pace but when he swung off, Landa was forced to set the pace himself. Fuglsang tried again but it only had the effect that Dupont was brought back.

 

Pirazzi tried again and as no one responded, he got clear. Peraud joined the Italian and again it forced Landa to lead the chase.

 

The relentless Fuglsang moved again with 3km to go but Landa, Firsanov and Bardet were quick to respond. The group came back together and Landa again had to chase. He got some welcome assistance from Buchmann who was working for Konrad.

 

Buchmann led the group under the flamme rouge and made the catch just moments later. The German champion kept riding on the front until Pirazzi made a final desperate move.

 

When the Bardiani rider swung off, Pozzovivo and Busato launched the sprint and while the former drifted backwards, the latter looked strong. However, Kangert moved up on his left-hand side and managed to pass him to win the stage.

 

Things were looking bad for Landa who seemed to have been boxed in but suddenly found a gap and he managed to pass Konrad just metres from the line. This was enough to take third and pick up the four crucial bonus seconds that allowed him to take the overall win with a 2-second advantage over Kangert. Fuglsang was 14 seconds behind in third while Firsanov and Konrad completed the top 5.

 

With the Giro del Trentino over, the attention in Italy turns to the Giro d’Italia which starts in exactly two weeks and with the victory, Landa can head to Apeldoorn with renewed confidence.

 

A tough stage

After yesterday’s queen stage, the stage ended with another very tough day in the saddle as the riders travelled over 161.1km from Male to Cles. After three climbs in the early part, they hit the brutally steep Forcella di Brez which averaged 9.6km over 6km. From the top there were still 34.8km left and they consisted of 20km of descending and a lumpy 14km circuit around the finishing city.

 

All riders were present and it was dry when the peloton gathered for the start where they hit out at a crazy pace. Marlen Zmorka (Skydive) was the first man on the offensive, but Caja Rural caught him immediately, and with Nippo in control it was still together after 15 kilometers.

 

A fast start

The pace was terrific and as a consequence the peloton split up. After 40km of racing, there were only 30 riders left in the front group, and the speed was too much for Andre Gohr (Brazil), Dennis Paul (Tirol), Marlen Zmorka, Xhuliano Kamberaj (skydive) and Fabio Chinello (D'Amico) who all abandoned. Another group was 47 seconds behind, while a third group found themselves 10 seconds further adrift.

 

There were still many attacks, but it was Astana that controlled everything before they sent Vincenzo Nibali on the offensive after 40 km of racing. Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) joined him, and while the peloton exploded, Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom) also made contact.

 

Sky take control

Sky started to chase after a first hour in which the riders had covered 42.4 km. They kept the gap at 1.05 after 45km before they slowly let it grow to 1.37 eight kilometers later. Meanwhile, Cunego beat Nibali and Foliforov in the intermediate sprint.

 

The gap reached 2:10, but when they hit the Fondo climb after 68km of racing, it had dropped to 1.59. Nibali beat Foliforov and Cunego in the KOM sprint, while the peloton reached the top 2 minutes later.

 

Ag2r come to the fore

Miguel Angel Benito (Caja Rural) crashed on the descent and had to leave the race in an ambulance in a phase that was relatively quiet. After two hours at an average speed of 42.6km/h, the gap was still around 2 minutes.

 

As the riders hit the day's next climb after 88km of racing, the advantage had gone out to 2.19, but now the chase got more organized. Ag2r joined Sky on the front but when Nibali beat Foliforov and Cunego in the KOM sprint, the gap was still 2.14.

 

Slowly the work started to bear fruit, and at the entrance to the last 50km, the gap had been reduced to 1.47. It was down to 1.23 with 40km to go and moments later they hit the climb where the action started for real.

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