Simon Yates won stage two of the Tour of the Alps 2021 with a very impressive 25km solo effort after attacking multiple times to drop all his rivals on the penultimate climb.
Yates (BikeExchange) put in his attacks after Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) tried multiple times too. Defending champion Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) was the last man to hold on the longest to the British rider.
Sivakov attacked on the final climb after being caught by a large group at the base of the climb where the Russian held on to take second on the day 40 seconds down on Yates.
Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) led in a group of three a few seconds later to take third on the day. Yates takes the overall lead as well as the stage by an impressive margin of 45 seconds going into stage three tomorrow.
How it happened
The second stage of the Tour of the Alps 2021 started in the finish city of stage one in Innsbruck before taking on four climbs, two of which were categorised before finishing in Feichten im Kaunertal after 121.5km.
Six riders got away eventually after a fast start, Felix Engelhardt (Tirol-KTM) made it up there for the second day in a row taking maximum points in the intermediate sprint to hold his red intermediate sprints jersey.
The other five riders in the break were Reuben Thompson (Groupama-FDJ), Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg (Qhubeka-Assos), Mathias Vacek (Gazprom-RusVelo), Morten Hulgaard (Uno-X) and Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), who got a maximum gap of three minutes.
Janse Van Rensburg lost touch on the first categorised climb of the Gachenblinck-Piller Sattel and faded back into the peloton with 55km to go. Thompson went clear to take maximum points on the first climb and pushed on with Bais over the top with 44km to go with the gap at 2-30.
Ineos Grenadiers led the peloton throughout the day with Salvatore Puccio leading the way for the vast majority of the race alongside fellow Italian and team-mate Leonardo Basso.
At the 35km to go mark Thompson and Bais had a 22-second lead on the descent to the rest of the breakaway and pulled the gap back to the peloton up to over two minutes again. They hit the second ascent of the Kaunergrat side of the Piller Sattel with 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the break and two minutes to the peloton at 29km to go.
Ineos Grenadiers led onto the climb but Arkéa-Samsic came to the front en-masse for their leader Quintana with the time gap plummeting to the leaders, who were dragged back with 26km to go.
Winner Anacona (Arkéa-Samsic) was drilling the pace up the climb with Quintana on his wheel as the snow started to fall lightly on the riders. Quintana attacked with 24km to go, Dani Martínez, Sivakov and Iván Sosa (all Ineos Grenadiers) all able to follow.
Sivakov countered that with Quintana following. Hugh Carthy (EF-Nippo) tried to launch across to the leaders but that dragged the rest back. Quintana kicked a third time with Carthy and Sivakov going with it.
Jefferson Cepeda (Androni), Yates, Jai Hindley (DSM), and about 15 others managed to stay with it. Martínez countered the next move but Yates led everyone back before having a go himself.
The Yates surge saw the peloton crack dramatically with just Sivakov, Carthy and Quintana able to follow with 24km to go. Yates then put in a huge attack that dropped both fellow Brit Carthy as well as Quintana. Sivakov made it across to stay with Yates though.
Yates upped the cadence again and this time the rider from Bury managed to leave the Russian Ineos Grenadiers rider. Sivakov dropped back to Carthy and Quintana very quickly as Yates went over the top of the climb with 21km to go holding a gap of 20 seconds.
Behind, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) and Romain Bardet (DSM) made it to the chasing trio at the bottom of the descent. Bardet attacked straight away but was brought back as the group swelled to 15 riders with 9km to go. Yates continued to hold 45 seconds.
Alejandro Osorio (Caja-Rural) and Martínez went clear from that group before being joined by Hindley, Cepeda and Ruben Guerreiro (EF-Nippo) with 8km to go. Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech), Sivakov, and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) joined them but they just continued attacking each other.
It finally snapped allowing Sivakov, Vlasov, Hindley, Martin, and Cepeda to get away as they started working hard to catch Yates who was 44 seconds further up the road.
Sivakov attacked the chase group and went clear with Cepeda before dropping the young Ecuadorian and going clear in the final 4km. Sivakov held on for second with Martin and Vlasov catching and beating Cepeda to the line.
Yates rode on to win the stage by 41 seconds, taking a 45 second lead in the general classification over Sivakov going into stage three which is likely to suit the punchy sprinters on a hilly route from Imst to Naturno over 162km.
Tour of the Alps 2021, stage two: Innsbruck to Feichten im Kaunertal (121.5km)
1. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, in 3-17-42
2. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 41 seconds
3. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 58s
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech
5. Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, all at same time
6. Jai Hindley (Aus) Team DSM, at 1-17
7. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at same time
8. Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange, at 1-42
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM
10. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo, all at same time.
General classification after stage two
1. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, in 6-46-56
2. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 45s
3. Dan Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 1-04
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at 1-08
5. Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at same time
6. Jai Hindley (Aus) Team DSM, at 1-27
7. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at same time
8. Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange, at 1-52
9. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
10. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, all at same time.
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