Ian Stannard kicked off Team Sky’s perfect day by claiming his first professional victory in the fifth stage of the 2011 Tour of Austria
Just hours before Edvald Boasson Hagen won the team’s first Tour de France stage, Stannard sprinted to victory in Alpendorf-Shladming, having earlier instigated the day’s decisive breakaway.
Gatis Smukulis (HTC-Highroad) and Stefan Denifl (Leopard-Trek) completed the podium, but neither looked like getting the better of the Brit in the race for the line.
The 24-year-old finished third in last year’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and was reportedly considered for a Tour de France start this year.
Stannard’s better effect
Stannard attacked from the peloton on the first of three climbs that lined the day’s 157km route, the Pass Leug, which fell after 27km.
Denifl, Smukulis, Yannick Eijssen (BMC) and Gregory Rast (RadioShack) all followed, and despite never gaining a lead of over four minutes, the main field never looked interested in bringing the race together again.
Eijsssen lost contact with the leaders at the finish, before Stannard’s impressive acceleration ensured that he would stand atop the podium.
Another Sky rider – Chris Sutton – won the bunch sprint, before Boasson Hagen triumphed in northern France to give the team their first Tour de France stage victory, thus ensuring July 7, 2011 became one of their best days in their fledgling history.
Astana’s Fredrik Kessiakoff still leads the race with three stages remaining.