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Gatto doubles his tally in Austria

In a repeat of his stage 2 victory, Gatto emerges as the strongest in the bunch sprint on the fourth stage of the Tour of Austria, again holding off Lobato and Haller; Kennaugh defends lead

JUAN JOSE LOBATO

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MARCO HALLER

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OSCAR GATTO

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PETER KENNAUGH

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TEAM SKY

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TOUR OF AUSTRIA 

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09.07.2014 @ 18:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Oscar Gatto (Cannondale) continued his dominance of the Tour of Austria sprints when the added the victory in stage 4 to the one he took two days ago. Again he held off Juan Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Marco Haller (Katusha) in the final dash to the line while Peter Kennaugh finished safely with the peloton to defend his leader’s jersey.

 

Going into the Tour of Austria, Oscar Gatto was frustrated that he had not yet paid back the confidence from his new Cannondale team with a win, after having come close in the Giro and the Three Days of De Panne. Now he has really got the ball rolling as he won today’s fourth stage of the race just two days after taking the victory in stage 2.

 

Like two days ago, it all came down to a bunch sprint after Cannondale had been chasing hard all day and again Gatto emerged as the fastest. In fact, the podium was completely identical to the one of stage 2 as Juan Jose Lobato and Marco Haller again completed the top 3.

 

After yesterday’s queen stage, the Tour of Austria contined with a 171.9km stage from Kitzbühel to Matrei and it had a pretty hilly profile. The first part contained three climbs, including one of the first category but the final third of the race consisted to a gradual descent and a gradual ascent which seemed to suit the fast guys perfectly.

 

Nonetheless, the race was off to a very fast start as several riders wanted to be part of the early action. Several different groups got clear during the first 30km but none of them managed to get a significant gap. Along the way Florian Bissinger scored maximum points on the first climb.

 

Before they hit the second climb, Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff-Saxo), Marco Minnaard (Wanty) and Marco Canola (Bardiani) got clear after 30km of racing and they started to build a gap which reached a maximum of 4.10. Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Jesper Hansen (Tinkoff-Saxo) tried to bridge the gap but never made the junction.

 

On the category 1 climb, Canola took maximum points while KOM leader Belkov made sure to take fourth to increase his lead in the KOM competition. The Italian was again the fastest on the final climb where Belkov again picked up a few points.

 

The riders showed no interest in the intermediate sprints while behind Cannondale and Sky made sure to keep the gap stable at around the 3-minute mark. After the finale climb, Minnaard suffered an unfortunate puncture and fell back to the peloton.

 

Cannondale was now the only team leading the chase but with 25km to go, the gap was still 2.20, giving the escapees a glimmer of hope. However, the gap now started to melt away rapidly and just after the 5km mark, Canola was caught as the final escapee.

 

The pace was now kept high all the way to the finish where the sprinters again battled it out. Like two days ago Gatto proved his speed by holding off Lobato and Haller.

 

Race leder Peter Kennaugh finished safely in the bunch and so defended his 29-second advantage over Damiano Caruso (Cannondale). He takes that into tomorrow’s fifth stage which has a flat start and finish but contains two category 2 and an HC climb at the midpoint. From the final summit, however, 60km remain and it could be a chance for the strong sprinters or a breakaway.

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