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After dropping race leader Hirt on the climb to Kitzbüheler Horn, de la Parte won the Tour of Austria queen stage with an advantage of more than a minute over Hermans; the Spaniard also took the overall lead

Photo: Mario Stiehl

BEN HERMANS

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10.07.2015 @ 16:10 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Two days after winning the first mountain stage of the race Victor de la Parte (Vorarlberg) continued his amazing 2015 season by crushing the opposition in the Tour of Austria queen stage. After race leader Jan Hirt (CCC) had managed to follow his first attack, he dropped the Czech before riding to the victory with an advantage of 1.17 over Ben Hermans (BMC) and taking the overall lead.

 

At a time when the opportunities in Spain are limited, some of the riders have to chase success in foreign teams. One of the riders to follow a different path is 29-year-old Victor de la Parte who spent one year at Caja Rural before he spent years in Greece and Portugal.

 

Last year he won the prologuein the Volta a Portugal and that helped him secure a contract with the Austrian Vorarlberg team for the 2015 season. Here he has enjoyed a breakthrough season, most notably with an overall victory in the hard Fleche du Sud stage race.

 

Riding for an Austrian team, his biggest goal of the year is the Tour of Austria and after he finished third overall and won a stage in the Oberösterreich Rundfahrt, he was mentioned as a possible outsider for the race. However, few would have imagined him to beat all the pro riders but that’s what he did in the first mountain stage two days ago when he beat Jan Hirt in a two-rider sprint.

 

Today de la Parte had the big chance to confirm that he was not a one-hit wonder when he tackled the queen stage with the finish at the top of the famous Kitzbüheler Horn which is one of the hardest climbs in Europe. Again he turned out to be the strongest and this time he was simply in a class of his own.

 

After Sylwester Szmyd had whittled the front group down to just 6 riders to set race leader Jan Hirt up for the win, the Spaniard was the first to attack and Hirt was the only who managed to follow. However, he was quickly distanced and from there it was a mountain time trial for de la Parte.

 

Hirt was caught by Ben Hermans and those two riders tried to bring de la Parte back. However, they constantly lost time and instead they started an internal battle. Inside the final kilometre, Hermans attacked and he reached the finish in second, 1.17 behind the dominant de la Parte. Hirt was third, 11 seconds further adrift.

 

With the win, de la Parte also takes the overall lead with an advantage of 1.20 over Hermans who is still second. He will have a significantly easier day tomorrow in the short 139km penultimate stage. It includes an early category 4 climb but as the rest of the course is completely flat, it should be a day for the sprinters.

 

The queen stage

After one day in the flatlands, it was back into the mountains for the queen stage which brought the riders over164.7km from Lienz to the feared summit finish on the Kitzbüheler Horn. Right from the start, the riders went up a category 2 climb before they tackled the massive Grossglockner ascent. A long descent led to a flat section before the riders hit the final climb which is one of the steepest in Europe and had maximu gradient of 23%.

 

It was beautiful sunny day when the riders gathered in Lienz for the start of the queen stage. With a tough category 2 climb right from the start, it was no surprise that it was another brutal opening to the race as several riders wanted to go on the attack.

 

The break is formed

Felix Grosschartner (Felbermayr), David Wöhrer (Tirol), Frederik Backaert (Wanty), Quetin Jauregui (Ag2r) and Julien El Fares (Marseille) used the climb to get clear and it was the former who crested the summit in first position. Meanwhile, Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhuebka) and Dylan Teuns (BMC) took off in pursuit while CCC took control of the peloton.

 

The escapees had to work hard to get an advantage as CCC were riding hard in the peloton. When El Fares won the first intermediate sprint at the 27km mark, the two chasers had been brought back and intead Yoann Paillot (Marseille), Patrick Schelling (IAM) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis) took off in pursuit.

 

Mountain points for Grosschartner

As they hit the Grossglockner, the chasers were just 30 seconds behind while the peloton was at 2 minutes. As they went up the steep slopes, the two front groups merged while CCC allowed the gap to go out to 3 minutes.

 

CCC whittled the front group down to 50 riders and started to slowly bring the break back before Grosschartner won the KOM sprint with a 200m advantage over El Fares. The Austrian also won the category 2 sprint that followed just a few kilometres later.

 

Hansen and Mohoric bridge the gap

On the descent, El Fares, Backaert, Schelling, Grosschartner, Molard and Wöhrer again joined forces while Jauregui and Paillot were caught by the peloton. Jesper Hansen (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Matej Mohoric (Cannondale) did an impressive performance to bridge the gap and so an 8-rider front group had a 3-minute advantage at the 91km mark. Molard briefly had to stop to fix a puncture but he rejoined the group in time to win the second intermediate sprint at the 109km mark. At this point, the gap was 2.20 and CCC were still in control.

 

The front group managed to extend the advantage to 2.40 at the 120km mark before the peloton accelerated. Fifteen kilometres later, it was just 1.50 and the fight for position had now intensified.

 

Mohoric attacks

The gap came down to 1.20 but as they hit the final climb, it had again gone out to 2 minutes. The selection started immediately as Molard and Backaert were dropped from the front group.

 

With 5km togo, Hansen, Mohoric, Schelling and Grosschartner were the only riders left in the front group and they still had a 50-second advantage over the peloton which was down to 20 riders. Moments later Mohoric attacked and he managed to distance his companions.

 

De la Parte makes his move

On the peloton, Sylwester Szmyd had taken over the pace-setting for CCC and only de la Parte, Hirt, Hermans, Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka), Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff-Saxo) could keep up with him. He brought Mohoric back before de la Parte attacked.

 

Hirt joined the Spaniard but ultimately had to surrender. He dropped back to Hermans and those two worked together to limit their losses before Hermans attacked inside the final kilometre to take second behind the superior de la Parte.

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