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Friday, April 22, 2022

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2021 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. - Arthur Schopenhauer

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Tour of the Alps stage four reports

We posted the race organizer's report with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Miguel Angel Lopez's Team Astana Qazaqstan:

The leader of Astana Qazaqstan Team Miguel Angel Lopez takes a beautiful solo win atop Kals am Grossglockner at Stage 4 of the Tour of the Alps. Lopez attacked from the peloton with some four kilometers to go; firstly, he caught the only remained rider from the earlier breakaway Thibault Pinot and later after a counterattack he went solo to take his first win of the season.

Miguel Angel Lopez solos across the finish line. Sirotti photo

“It is a good day for me, but also for the whole team. We were looking for this success and now we get the confidence and motivation for the next goals. It was the only stage with an uphill final and, definitely, I was motivated to try something today. I stayed calmly in the main group while we had Sebastian and Fabio in the break, but when it became clear that it won’t reach the finish, I decided to attack. I made a powerful move, shortly getting a gap to the peloton. But until a moment I still was not sure if I can reach Thibault Pinot or not. He still was far away in front, but with some 2.5 kilometers to go I finally saw him in front, and in that moment I just gave my best to catch him and later to attack again”, – said Miguel Angel Lopez.

“I lived some good moments at the finish, and I wanted to deliver this success to Astana Qazaqstan Team, my home team where I returned this season and where I got a very warm welcome back. Also, I wanted to dedicate the win to my second child, who we are expecting with my wife soon. Alongside this by this victory I just wanted to remember our great champion Michele Scarponi who left us five years ago”, – continued Miguel Angel.

“Well, we arrived here with a goal to make the final step in our preparation to the Giro d’Italia, to feel the racing rhythm, to try different tactics and to try to win a stage. I believe we are spending a good week here at the Tour of the Alps, I feel like my form is growing and I am on the right way to the Giro”, – concluded Lopez.

Astana Qazaqstan Team was very active from the start: firstly, it was David De La Cruz who attacked for several times for a breakaway, and in a moment he found himself in a group of eleven riders. When this group has been caught back, Fabio Felline and Sebastian Henao made another move, which brought them to another group of escapers.

After a crash Fabio Felline came back to the peloton, where he provided some help to Miguel Angel Lopez, while Sebastian Henao still was fighting for a stage win until the final six kilometers, when the peloton neutralized his breakaway.

There was still a rider in front of the race – Thibault Pinot, but he could not resist under a super strong attack of Miguel Angel Lopez, who won today’s Stage 4.

“We had two options for this stage and at the meeting before start we decided that it is better if Miguel Angel stays in the peloton for the final, while some other riders would try to do something in the break. I think our team did a great stage with David De La Cruz and later with Fabio Felline and Sebastian Henao, who worked hard and fought for a stage win. Well, at the end of the day it did not work, but we still had our leader Miguel Angel Lopez, who was ready to attack on the final climb. It was a perfect move; he was unstoppable today. We all are really happy with this long-awaited victory, and it brings us some good motivation and inspiration ahead of the Giro d’Italia”, – said Alexandr Shefer, Sports Director of Astana Qazaqstan Team.

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Here's what third-place Romain Bardet's Team DSM had to say about the stage:

The penultimate day of action at the Tour of the Alps saw the peloton roll out of Villabassa and head towards the Austrian town of Kals am Grossglockner, faced with a 143 kilometre long parcours that included 2200 metres of climbing and a hilltop finish.

It was a fast and intense start to the day, with lots of attacks at the head of the bunch as the breakaway looked to form out front. Unfortunately, a crash in the bunch saw Romain Bardet and Marco Brenner involved for the team, but both managed to avoid serious injury and quickly returned to the peloton. Eventually after 60 kilometres of racing a group of 15 escaped, with all Team DSM riders in the bunch.

Those ahead were only allowed to build up a gap of around two minutes and with it holding steady, the team came to assist in the chase with youngsters Max Poole and Pepijn Reinderink doing a brilliant job to pull on the front in the valley. Heading onto the final climb, which was split into two parts, Marco Brenner and Chris Hamilton took over and set a tempo, looking to reel in the strong move.

This is the Tour of the Alps, so there is plenty of climbing. Sirotti poto

With the gap to those ahead falling, attacks in the peloton flew with eventual stage winner Lopez managing to escape within the final four kilometres. Bardet reacted and tagged onto a group of chasers but there was a lack of cooperation and those behind soon came back, with Arensman helping to pull in the finale to set up the sprint for the final podium spot. Giving everything all the way to the line, Bardet out-sprinted the rest of the group to claim third place and four valuable bonus seconds; moving him to within two seconds of race leader Bilbao. Arensman followed home in ninth place on the stage, making for another double top ten finish as he retains the white jersey as best young rider and moves into seventh on GC ahead of tomorrow’s final stage.

Bardet said: “We can be proud of the team effort today, everyone gave it their all in the process. We wanted to make it hard to chase the stage win and it came close. Hats off to the guys for their help and we’ll give it one more go tomorrow.”
Team DSM coach Matt Winston added: “Our goal was to try and win the stage today with Romain. It was a really a hard start, with a lot of fighting for a long time before the break eventually went. The gap was kept tight so in the valley road we helped in the chase, with our two young guys Max and Pepijn doing a really good job there, pulling full gas. When we started the climb Marco and Chris set a bit of a tempo to try and bring the break back. In the end, Lopez jumped away and Romain also went away in a group on the chase. Finishing third on the stage, taking four seconds time bonus it brings us real close now on the GC. It’s certainly all to fight for tomorrow, so we’ll be in for an interesting stage.”

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Here's the stage four report from team Bora-hansgrohe:

The 4th stage of the Tour of the Alps took very long time until finally a break was established. Even quite early a break including Patrick Gamper was able to go clear from the Peloton, right after the first KOM of the day their attempt was neutralized. Finally, after 70 kilometers 14 riders built a two-minute lead and also today BORA – hansgrohe was part of this move with Matteo Fabbro and Anton Palzer.

On the final climb of the day Pinot attacked from the break while Fabbro and Palzer were reeled back in from a flying bunch. With four kilometers remaining M. Lopez bridged across to Pinot and dropped him immediately to take the stage win. Cian Uijtdebroeks crossed the line just a few seconds behind the group of favorites in 19th place. Cian sits now 18th in GC just 1:19 behind P. Bilbao as the battle for seconds continues at the Tour of the Alps.

Pello Bilbao remains the GC leader. Sirotti photo

“It’s really cool that I finally made it into a break today. I have to thank all my teammates and Christian our DS because they all take a lot of time to explain cycling to me. Today again it took very long until the break formed, and I jumped like 50 times before we made it. I know it is still a long way to go for me, but I feel I took the next step in my development. After Catalunya I was sick, and I am not at the same level yet. Therefore, it feels even better that I was able to show myself today. I will keep on working hard and hopefully I will be able to deliver a result for the team next time.” – Anton Palzer

“We wanted to ride offensively again, and the boys did again a great job. Everyone tried to be in the group and finally we had Matteo and Toni in. We knew it would be difficult because gaps in GC are still small and therefore the favorites always attack each other. Both did their best but today it didn’t work out. It’s nice to see that Toni keeps on progressing. You have to remember that he did his very first bike race ever here last year, and he is still improving race by race. Also, Cian did a nice race again. He couldn’t hang on to the very best but was just a few seconds behind them and that is absolutely ok for a young rider like he is.” – Christian Pömer, sports director

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And here's the report from Omer Goldstein's Team Israel-Premier Tech:

Israel – Premier Tech’s Omer Goldstein reached out for the win on stage 4 of Tour of the Alps today. Unfortunately, he had to see his courageous effort come to an end on the final climb of the day.

After three good stages for the team, always being in the mix, the morale of the IPT riders was high ahead of Thursday’s undulating stage. Everybody was eager to work for a big result and after a fast start with countless attacks, Goldstein managed to join a strong breakaway of 15 riders.

“I hadn’t really shown myself in the race so far and since today, probably, was my last chance to try something, I was super motivated to be in the break”, Goldstein said after the stage. “We missed the first big break, but my teammates really helped me a lot and we brought it back together again. Even though my legs were really hurting at that point, I knew I had to do something and I put in a big effort to make the next big group that went away.”The front group worked well together and on the steep slopes at the bottom of the final climb, Goldstein upped to pace at the front. Just a few riders were able to follow the former Israeli champion and ultimately, only Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) was left with Goldstein in the lead of the race.

A gutted-looking Thibaut Pinot finishes second. Sirotti pnoto

“On the hard part of the last climb, I went full out. I managed to get a gap but then Pinot came back to me. I stayed with him for a while but with 500 meters to the top, I had to let go and he continued alone. It was a shame, because if I had just been able to stay with him for a little longer, I think the outcome could have been different today. However, I’m still satisfied with how I raced today. I definitely gave it my all.”

At the end, Goldstein crossed the line in 35th place, while Carl Fredrik Hagen is the best-placed IPT rider in the general classification. Tomorrow, Tour of the Alps finishes with another difficult stage with several hard climbs to overcome.

“The atmosphere on the team is really good. We said we would be racing aggressively and I think we have shown that every day in this race so far. Tomorrow is the last day and for sure, we will try our best once again.”

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