The Queen stage of the Tour of Austria took riders over the Grossglockner before eventually finishing atop the famed Kitzbuheler Horn. Victor De la Parte (Vorarlberg) would be the rider to climb his way to the stage victory and also into the race leader’s jersey.
There would be a fair sized group of 8 riders who escaped over the Grossglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, and they would be able to muscle out a maximum lead of 4 minutes. Team CCC Sprandi did most of the pace setting in defence of their race leaders jersey from the peloton.
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung would come to the assistance of CCC Sprandi as the race approached the Kitzbuheler Horn with Jaco Venter doing some strong turns up front. The 8 leading riders would start the infamous 7.4km ‘Horn’ with just on a 2 minute lead but the 23% gradients would soon see the break implode. Once the peloton hit the climb it very quickly became every man for himself too.
Of the favourites, De la Parte was first to put in a meaningful acceleration and he was followed by Hirt. All the early leaders were now reeled in by 4km to go. Hirt could not sustain the pace at the front though and De la Parte pushed on alone to take a good stage win. Our Eritrean champion, Natnael Berhane was riding strongly a little further down the road, eventually crossing the line 5th on the day. A result good enough to consolidate 4th place on the overall GC for our African team.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
It was a really hard start today. The first climb was really tough and very long, the bunch just exploded on the first mountain. Over the top the peloton was split in two main groups with another group of 8 up the road. Johann, Jaco, Youcef and Natnael were in the first peloton with our other guys in the 2nd group. CCC then controlled to the final and we brought Natnael into a good position for the final climb. We were hoping to move onto the podium of the GC today but we just missed it. There are still some stages left and we will definitely race for another stage win.