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With a powerful attack from a four-rider lead group, Zoidl rode to an impressive solo win on the Tour of Croatia queen stage, putting 28 seconds into Kvasina and De La Parte; Kvasina is the new leader






22.04.2016 @ 17:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) finally lived up to his huge potential after joining the WorldTour by claiming an impressive solo win in the Tour of Croatia queen stage. Having attacked from a four-rider lead group less than 2km from the top of the final climb of Ucka, he put 28 seconds into Matija Kvasina (Synergy Baku) and Victor De La Parte (CCC) to take his first international win for Trek. Kvasina took the overall lead with a 19-second advantage over Zoidl.


In 2013, Riccardo Zoidl was the big revelation of the continental circuit. The Austrian won numerous stage races and beat some of the best climbers in the world on home soil when he took a surprise victory at the Tour of Austria.


The results made him a hot name on the transfer market and it was the Trek team that won the battle for his signature. However, since then nothing has gone right for the talented Austrian who can both climb and time trial and apart from a win at his national championships in 2014, he had taken no wins for his team in his first two seasons.


Zoidl has been marred by numerous health issues and crashes, most recently when he hit the deck at the team’s pre-season training camp. The incident left him with a broken collarbone, making it another frustrating start to the year.


However, Zoidl has carefully been preparing for the Giro d’Italia and now he finally seems to be back on track. Today he continue the Trek domination at the Tour of Croatia by riding to a storming solo win in the queen stage.


After three days for the sprinters, the peloton headed into the mountains for the short 122.1km stage that brought the riders from Crikvenica to a summit finish on the Ucka climb. After a flat start, there was a big climb at the midpoint but the big challenge was the final 22km ascent which had a steep second half with sections of 14%.


It was another hot and sunny day when the riders gathered for the start. Only Jonas Koch (Verva) who crashed two days ago, was absent as they headed out for the neutral ride.


As in the previous stages, the start was brutally fast and for a long time no one could escape. It was still all together at the first intermediate sprint after 8km of racing where Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) beat Adam Stachowiak (Verva) and Artur Ershov (Gazprom).


The attacking continued and the riders got to the first big climb before a group managed to surge clear. Daniel Turek (Cycling Academy), Javier Megias (Novo Nordisk), Artem Ovechkin (Gazprom), Scott Davies (WIGGINS), Domen Novak (Adria Mobil), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani), Sondre Holst Enger (IAM) and Brecht Dhaene (Verandas Willems) got an advantage while Laurens De Vreese (Astanaa), Adrian Kurek (CCC), Alberto Nardin (Androni) and James Oram (ONE) formed a chase group.


The many attacks made the peloton explode. A gruppetto quickly formed around Cavendish and race leader Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) also got dropped. However, the latter made it back to the peloton on the descent after Ovechkin had beaten Tonelli, Davies, Turek and Novak in the KOM sprint.


Things calmed down as a regrouping took place in the peloton before Trek started to chase with Eugenio Alafaci and Gregory Rast. Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff) quickly lent them a hand and they kept the gap under control. It was 1.22 with 50km to go, and as the chasers realized that they would not get back, they sat up.


The gap reached a maximum of 2 minutes with 45km but then Trek and Paulinho upped the pace. It was down to 1.30 15km later and now the chasing was even getting more organized as Nizzolo and Edward Theusn were also working hard for Trek. Megias beat Novak and Enger in the final intermediate sprint.


The gap was melting away and the escapees were only 1.20 ahead with 25km to go. Verva-ActiveJet were now also contributing and when Rast led the peloton onto the climb, only 35 seconds were left of the advantage.


Nizzolo sat up and waved goodbye to the leader’s jersey before Paulinho took one final turn for Tinkoff. However, it was CCC that took control with defending champion Maciej Paterski. The Pole set a brutal pace that created a big selection in the group and quickly he had the break in sight. Mejias and Ovechkin were the first to sit up and with 18km to go, the rest of the group was brought back.


The gradual selection continued as Reinardt van Rensburg and De Vrees were some of the big names to surrender. Paterski continued on the front until 16km remained where Jay McCarthy took over for Tinkoff.


With 12km to go, the Australian had whittled the group down to around 15 riders and he would stay on the front until the climb got steeper in the final 10km. He was quick to shut down the first attack from Victor De La Parte and Davies before he swung off, leaving team captain Jesper Hansen to fend for himself.


De La Parte rode on the front for a while before it nearly came to a standstill. That opened the door for the Austrian to attack with a Synergy Baku but they didn’t get clear. However, the fast pace meant that another selection was made.


Enger used another small lull to escape and he quickly opened a gap of 20 seconds before the chase got organized. It was Kirill Pozdnyakov who hit the front and he did an impressive job for his team leader Matija Kvasina. He slowly reeled Enger in with 7km to go, and the Norwegian went straight out the back door.


Poznyakov kept riding on the front of the group that was down to 12 riders as his team leader Kvasina, Zoidl, Julian Arrdondo (Trek), Novak, Radoslav Rogina (Adria), De La Parte, Felix Grosschartner (CCC), Hansen, Markus Eibegger (Felbermayr), Davies and Daniel Peason (WIGGINS) were the only riders who could keep up.


The attacking started again with 4km to go when De La Parte moved again. Zoidl closed it down and as he upped the pace, only Rogina, Kvasina, De La Parte and Hansen could keep up. Hansen and Rogina had to surrender and it was Kvasina who took over the pace-setting.


It was three against two for a little while but as Kvasina got no help, Hansen managed to bridge across to the leaders with 2km to go. However, just as the junction was made, Zoidl made his move. De La Parte tried to keep up but finally had to surrender.


From there, the outcome was never in doubt. Zoidl kept riding strongly on the front while Kvasina slowly made it back to De La Parte. The pair tried to limit their losses but it was not possible to get back to Zoidl who crossed the line with a 28-second advantage. Kvasini beat De La Parte in the sprint for second while Hansen crossed the line with a time loss of 34 seconds.


Unfortunately, Zoidl lost time due to a crash in stage and so the win was not enough to take the overall lead. Instead, Kvasina is now in first place with a 19-second advantage over Zoidl. However, the Austrian has a big chance to claim the lead in tomorrow’s fifth stage. It’s an almost completely flat team time trial over the massive distance of 40.3km where his Trek team will be among the favourites.



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