GC rivals fail to unseat the Frenchman on tough closing stage to Innsbruck
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) sealed the overall title at the 2018 Tour of the Alps, fending off attacks from his GC rivals to arrive safely to the finish in Innsbruck.
Mark Padun (Bahrain-Merida) claimed the stage win, soloing away from a group of GC riders with just under 4km to go and holding it to the finish, despite George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) making pursuit.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) held on to fourth position overall despite looking off the pace on the final of three ascents of the Olympia Climb, and getting dropped. He was able to bridge back across to his rivals with the help of team-mate Kenny Elissonde.
Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) took third place overall to add to his stage two victory, while Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida) confirmed second behind Pinot.
How it happened
The Tour of the Alps peloton rolled out of the medieval centre of Rattenberg under sunny skies for a 164.2km stage that included three ascents of the climb to Igls which will feature nine times in the men’s road race at the World Championships in September.
The first of those ascents would start with 44.6km remaining, but before then there was the small matter of more than 100km of racing, including a first-category climb at Alpbach.
As has been the case in previous days, the opening kilometres of the race were fast and furious and it took more than 40km for a breakaway to go clear. When it eventually did, the move consisted of eight riders: François Bidard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Nicola Bagioli (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Oscar Rodriguez (Euskadi-Murias), Igor Anton (Dimension Data), Francesco Gavazzi (Androni-Sidermec), Simone Andreeta and Manuel Senni (Bardiani CSF), and Guy Niv (Israel Cycling Academy).
With no GC threats among them, that group was allowed the biggest lead of any breakaway of the race, peaking at nearly nine minutes at one point before the peloton slowly began to reel them in.
That trend continued until the first climb of the Olympia Climb to Igls which will be used in the World Championships saw the first action from the bunch, as Team Sky domestique David de la Cruz tapped off the front, making contact with the breakaway on the descent as their gap to the bunch came down to just 20 seconds.
De la Cruz continued to lead the front group up the second of the three ascents, receiving some assistance from Rodriguez, as Andrey Zeits (Astana) and Tobias Ludvigsson (Groupama-FDJ) worked hard to control the gap for team leaders Miguel Angel Lopez and Thibaut Pinot.
At the front of the race the combined pace-setting of De la Cruz and Rodriguez was enough to drop everyone by Bagioli, but that mattered little as Zeits’ fierce pace in the peloton neutralised Team Sky’s first roll of the dice with 29km remaining.
As the bunch hit the bottom of the final ascent of the race, third place overall Miguel Angel Lopez broke clear.
He quickly established a gap of up to 20 seconds, but race leader Pinot counter attacked with 18km to go to try and bridge up to him.
While the Frenchman wasn’t able to drop the rest of his rivals, that effort gapped Froome, who was beginning to look fatigued.
Second place Pozzovivo was the next to hit out with 16.3km to go, in a move that saw he and Pinot bridge to Lopez just a few hundred metres later up the climb.
That move really put Froome in trouble though, as he was dropped with his three key rivals heading out front up the climb.
Pursuit was made by George Bennett, who looked keen for a stage win after slipping back to over a minute down in GC Froome’s team-mate Elissonde was still looking strong, and eventually was able to help Froome find a rhythm and begin to close the gap to the front three.
The front three still had a significant gap as they began the descent to the finish, but that began to drop as they tried to attack each other and Froome group worked to close them down.
With 5km to go they had been caught, with Pinot now just needing to make sure he followed any moves by his closest rivals.
With the GC riders looking at each other, Mark Padun was able to take the opportunity to slip away having tagged onto the group. He drifted off the front with under 4km to go, and held it on the flat run in to the finish.
Bennett made a late attempt to breakaway, but had left it too late.
Froome also made a couple of late surges to try and gap the group, but he was closely marked and in the end, the GC riders were able to roll in together and the standings remained as they were ahead of the final stage.
Tour of the Alps 2018, stage five: Rattenberg to Innsbruck, 164.2km
1 Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain-Merida, in 4-16-10
2 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 5s
3 Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team, at 6s
4 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF
5 Ben O’Connor (Aus) Dimension Data, all same time
6 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 9s
7 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team
8 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky
9 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, all same time
10 Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Team Sky, at 11s
Final general classification
1 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, in 14-12-29
2 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 15s
3 Miguel Angel Lopez (Col) Astana Pro Team
4 Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 16s
5 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 1-00
6 Luis León Sánchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team, at 1-19
7 George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 1-33
8 Ben O’Connor (Aus) Dimension Data, at 1-35
9 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Bardiani CSF, at 1-42
10 Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team, at 1-48