Pavel Sivakov (Team Sky) took his maiden professional victory on stage two of the 2019 Tour of the Alps, beating Jan Hirt (Astana) to victory on the uphill finish.
The 21-year-old had been part of the leading group that made it to the bottom of the descent of the category one climb of the Jaufenpass, which also included Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and race leader and team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart among others.
Sivakov took his opportunity to attack with 3km to go on the final climb to the finish in Schenna, initially forging on alone. Jan Hirt then counter-attacked and bridged over to the Russian with 1.8km to go.
The pair then rode together in towards the finish, but it was Sivakov who tried to make the first move inside the final kilometre. He was quickly tracked by Hirt but was able to stop the Czech from immediately countering.
Sivakov then attacked again with just a few hundred metres to go on the ride to the line, with Hirt unable to hold the pace, allowing the Sky rider to get a gap and sail across the line to take his first professional victory. It’s the second victory of the race for Team Sky after Geoghegan Hart’s win on stage one, with Sivakov now taking over the overall lead from the Briton.
Geoghegan Hart finished 43 seconds down on the stage, 13 seconds behind overall favourites Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) who had attacked within the last few kilometres to gain some time.
Sky leader Chris Froome dropped out of the overall fight, losing contact with the main bunch after the Jaufenpass climb and finishing 1-34 back.
How it happened
Stage two of the 2019 Tour of the Alps would see riders take on what could be the queen stage of the race, with a ride over the Jaufenpass at 2,094m; the summit coming 45km before the uphill finish in Schenna.
The day’s main breakaway consisted of six riders: Ruben Acosta (Nippo Vini Fantini Faizanè), Juan José Amador (Mazana Postobon), Sergio Samitier (Euskadi-Murias), Giovanni Visconti and Edoardo Zardini (both Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM) and Filippo Rochetti (Colpack).
They established a maximum gap of 5-12 at 71km ridden, but the group began to break up on the long climb of the Jaufenpass.
It was Zardini and Samitier left at the head of affairs on the main climb led over the Jaufenpass, but had under a minute’s advantage over the summit.
Samitier was able to drop his companion Zardini on the descent of the climb, with Bahrain-Merida leading the main bunch down the descent.
Nibali was the first overall contender to try to break clear, accelerating with 18.2km to go. Chris Froome by this point was nowhere to be seen, with Samitier still 26 seconds ahead.
While Nibali was unable to make anything stick, it was Astana who had a plethora of riders in the main group who were trying to use their numbers to get away with 16km remaining.
Though no move could get clear, the accelerating pace of the group saw Samitier caught with 10km to go.
Again, a number of riders from the bunch attempted to attack and stay clear ahead of the final ascent to the line, but it wasn’t until Sivakov attacked in the last three kilometres that anything looked like staying away.
He gained 34 seconds on Nibali, who had now gone clear of race leader Geoghegan Hart along with Majka.
By this time it looked like no-one had the energy to catch Sivakov, but Hirt was able to eventually bridge across with 1.8km to go.
There was nothing he could do to stop Sivakov from taking his first professional victory however, along with the race lead heading into stage three.
The third stage of the Tour of the Alps takes the riders over another tough mountainous route with a climb close to the finish.
Tour of the Alps 2019, stage two: Reith im Alpbachtal to Schenna/Scena (178.7k)
1 Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky, in 4-58-17
2 Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team, at 4 seconds
3 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 17s
4 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 22s
5 Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida, at 29s
6 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 30s
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at same time
8 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at 43s
9 Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana Pro Team, at 44s
10 Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team, at 52s
General classification after stage two
1 Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky, in 8-28-55
2 Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team, at 8s
3 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 33s
4 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 39s
5 Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-Merida
6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
7 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at 43s
8 Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana Pro Team, at 53s
9 Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team, at 1-02
10 Roland Thalmann (Sui) Team Vorarlberg Santic, at 1-08