An incredible ride by Johann van Zyl during the 5th Tour of Austria stage saw the young South African pick up his first ever professional win, crossing the line alone and just a handful of seconds ahead of a fast charging peloton.
After an initial break of 6 riders were caught with around 60km to go, 3 new riders jumped clear including Johann. Our South African was joined by Grischa Janorschke (Vorarlberg) and Lukas Pöstlberger (Tirol). The trio combined well to establish a maximum of 3 minutes advantage over the peloton. The peloton soon realised the danger of the escape and began the chase.
The urgency in the main field saw a large crash take place, involving multiple riders. The organisers took the decision to bring the race to a halt. It was only momentarily though and the race was restarted with 20km to go, the break were allowed to start with the same advantage they had before the neutralisation.
With 7km to go, the break was holding on to a 1’40” lead while the peloton were in full hunting mode down the road. Johann then went on the make-or-break attack with 4km to go, leaving his fellow escapees behind. While the peloton had Johann within sight, the South African kept his head down and put that time trialing ability he has been working on to the test.
With a short and sharp rise to the line over the final few 100 meters, Johann would push through the burn to take his first ever professional win. Arriving just 5 seconds before David Tanner (IAM Cycling) brought the peloton home, with Rick Zabel (BMC Racing) in 3rd. Natnael Berhane held on to his 4th place on GC overall.
Johann van Zyl – Rider
I’m so incredibly happy that my gamble paid off. It was a strange race with the break taking just more than 80km to go and then after they went, they sat up. Kristian told me to take the opportunity as the next break might stick. I went with 2 guys and magically we made it work. I remember this finish from 2013 so I knew I had to attack them with 4km to go. I went as hard as I could and I just survived. It’s a great day for me and for our team as we gather more momentum for our 5000 bicycles campaign.
JP Heynderickx – Sport Director
We are so, so happy with this win. It was a great ride by Johann, he was very strong. The start of the stage was very fast. It took 90km for a break of 6 riders to get a gap. With a tailwind it was going to be risky to give the break too much space so immediately we put Songezo on the front to chase with BMC and IAM. When the break saw we were not going to give them anymore more than 3 minutes then they just sat up and waited for the peloton. Johann then attacked with two other riders and built up a 2’30” lead. There was a big crash at 20km to go so they stopped the race. When we started again they gave the break the time gap back and it was full gas again. Johann attacked just before 3km to go and he had enough of a time gap to take a fantastic win. The team has been going so well every day. Each stage the other teams are looking at us because we are making the racing. They look at us and say, wow that is a good team. So today we are happy.