That Colombia is a land of great climbers, is a fact. That Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) would have been among the men to beat on the road to the Fuchsia jersey in Innsbruck, was at least a legitimate chance. But the second stage of the Tour of the Alps, Lavarone-Alpe di Pampeago/Fiemme (145,5 km), wasn’t certainly short of surprises. The winner was the Astana’s Colombian, who made it two on two for his team at the Tour of the Alps so far. Another success of the Kazakh team, another dedication to Michele Scarponi, who was raising his arms in Innsbruck right 365 days ago.
It was due to be the clash among the big favorites, and Tour of the Alps did not disappoint. The final climb revealed strengths and weaknesses of the GC contenders, providing quite a clear image: Lopez and Pinot, along with the surprising Sosa, are looking the most brilliant uphill, along with Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), a certainty at the Tour of the Alps year after year. And then, obviously, Chris Froome: today, the leader of Team Sky looked on the back foot until halfway to the top of Pampeago, patrolled by his trusted teammates in the rear position of the main group. Then, suddenly, it was vintage Team Sky again: pushing hard at the front and setting a frantic pace that proved unsustainable for many rivals. Fabio Aru was the most prestigious victim of the day: the UAE-Emirates leader lost the wake of the strongest with 3 km to go. He didn’t falter, as he eventually surrendered only 34 seconds, but whose condition probably needs some more fine tuning before his Giro bid starts.
In the last 2 km, after a monumental Kenny Elissonde had finished his effort for Chris Froome, only six riders were left upfront: Froome, Pinot, Sosa, Lopez, Pinot, Pozzovivo and Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF), who provided another good display. Everything was decided in the final meters of a climb whose gradient really never gives a break: Froome was the first to launch his sprint, followed by Lopez, who barely anticipated Pinot and held just enough space on the Frenchman to enjoy his first stage win at the Tour of the Alps. Pinot was runner-up ahead of Ivan Sosa, who was almost surprised in discovering he had converted his white jersey into a fuchsia one.
“Who would have expected that? Yesterday the stage had been good (3rd), but today I went head-to-head against the strongest riders in the World. It’s a beautiful moment, and I am seizing it right now,” said Ivan Sosa afterwards, proudly overlooked by his team manager Gianni Savio.
If tomorrow Sosa will be on defense duty, Miguel Angel Lopez knows he will need to attack again: “In these days, we showed we have the strongest team, and not only for the two stage victories. But there are still many climbs to tackle in this Tour of the Alps, and the GC is still relatively short. Froome, Pinot, Pozzovivo, and Sosa himself will be hard rivals to face, until the end.” Today a stage victory has come, but clearly “Superman” is thinking of more.
Earning the spotlights early on were Jauregui (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mosca (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia), Rabitsch (Team Felbermayr Simplon), Rodriguez (Euskadi – Murias), Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli) and Goldshtein (Israel Cycling Academy), who had escaped in the early kilometers and remained clear until the beginning of the final climb. Jauregui was the last one to surrender to the comeback of the strongest: the Pampeago finish was too important for the Tour of the Alps’ leaders to give up on it.
Escapees will try it again tomorrow, Wednesday April 18th, in Tour of the Alps stage 3, as the race leaves Trentino to embrace Südtirol: it will be for 138,3 km from Ora/Auer to Merano/Meran. On the way, the riders will find two significant climbs in the Passo della Mendola/Mendelpass and Passo Palade/Gampen Pass, but also a long descent after the last peak to recover some gaps and earn a shot at the stage win in the Südtirol city.
Tour of the Alps stage 3 will be live on TV from 13.00 to 14.30 CET, thanks to the PMG production broadcast live by Eurosport 1 (Europe, Asia, Oceania), RaiSport (Italy), ORF (Austria), TV 2 (Denmark), L’Equipe (France), Eleven (North America), FloBikes (North America, Central America, South America), SkySport (New Zealand) and Econet (Africa), and delayed on Bike Channel (Italy).
The live streaming will also be aired on the Facebook page “PMG Sport” and on websites Pmgsport.it, Repubblica.it, Gazzetta.it, inbici.net, cicloweb.it, pulsemedia.it, oasport.it, LaPresse.it, Corrieredellosport.it, Tg.la7.it, Federciclismo.it, Tuttobiciweb.it, Cyclingpro.net, SpazioCiclismo.it, CiclismoSport.Go.tv, Mondiali.net and DirettaCiclismo.it.