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Kennaugh makes a well-timed attack on the steep Sonntagberg and holds off Zaugg and Moreno to take the opening stage and the first leader’s jersey of the Tour of Austria

Photo: Sirotti

JAVIER MORENO BAZAN

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OLIVER ZAUGG

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PETER KENNAUGH

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TEAM SKY

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TOUR OF AUSTRIA 

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06.07.2014 @ 18:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Peter Kennaugh (Sky) put himself in a perfect position for the overall victory in the Tour of Austria when he won today’s opening stage and took the first leader’s jersey in the 8-day race. Having used his Sky team to make the race hard, the British champion attacked on the final climb, Sonntagberg, and held off Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Javier Moreno (Movistar) by 11 seconds and 18 seconds respectively to take his second win in a week.

 

A little more than a week ago, Peter Kennaugh learnt that he had missed out on selection for the Sky Tour de France roster. Since then he has been on a mission to probe his team management wrong and he has done so in convincing fashion.

 

Last Sunday he won the British road race championships in impressive fashion when he beat his Sky teammate Ben Swift in a two-rider sprint and today he continued his run of success when he emerged as the strongest in the first stage of the Tour of Austria.

 

The 8-day race that is often the place for the riders to have missed out on Tour selection to prove their good condition, kicked off with a 182km stage from Tulln to the top of the short, steep Sonntagberg which has ramps of up to 22%. The first part of the stage was mostly flat but two category 3 climbs would serve as a warm-up for the finale.

 

After a very fast start that briefly had seen an 11-rider group with Stijn Devolder (Trek) get clear, 5 riders finally managed to build a significant gap. Dennis Vanendert (Lotto Belisol), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Andreas Hofer (Vorarlberg) and Martin Weiss (Tirol) were allowed to take an advantage of 6.20 before the peloton started to chase.

 

Trek and Tinkoff-Saxo took the responsibility to bring the gap down to just around 3 minutes where they kept it stable for some time. Meanwhile, Haas made sure to win the first two intermediate sprints while Belkov was the strongest on the first climb.

 

When the peloton hit the second climb, Sky took over and started to set a brutal pace that put a lot of riders into difficulty. The gap was now melting away and as Belkov led the front group over the top, both Hofer and Weiss had been dropped.

 

The group just managed to stay clear to allow Haas to win the final intermediate sprint but with 14km to go, it was all back together. Sky continued to keep the pace high all the way to the final climb where all was set for Kennaugh to make his move.

 

That’s what the Brit did and he quickly got a nice gap. He managed to hold off Oliver Zaugg by 11 seconds to take both the stage win and the yellow jersey while Javier Moreno took third 7 seconds later.

 

For defending champion Riccardo Zoidl (Trek), the stage ended as a huge disappointment as he lost 1.53 to the stage winner.

 

Kennaugh now takes his 15-second lead over Zaugg into tomorrow’s second stage that brings the riders over 180.9km from Waidhofen to Bad Ischl. With just three smaller climbs along the way and a flat finish, the sprinters are expected to come to the fore.

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