Tao Geoghegan Hart beat Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) in a sprint for the line on stage four of the 2019 Tour of the Alps.
The Briton’s Sky team-mate Pavel Sivakov held on to the overall lead, finishing fourth out of a group of four that made it to the finish together, with Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) taking third behind Nibali.
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The four made it to the finish together after dropping the rest of the peloton on the final categorised climb of Passo Predaia.
Despite numerous attacks from Nibali and Majka, the Sky duo were able to hold them in and the four eventually made it to the finish together.
Geoghegan Hart then launched his sprint from behind Sivakov with just over 100m to go, with Nibali the only rider able to try and compete with him.
There was nothing he could do to stop the 24-year-old though, who beat the Italian by a bike length to take his second professional win having taken his first on stage one of the race.
Geoghegan Hart moves up to second overall, 27 seconds behind Sivakov in first with Majka in third at 31 seconds and Nibali in fourth at 33 seconds with one stage to go.
How it happened
A short but testing 134km stage awaited the riders on day four of the Tour of the Alps, with two mountain passes en route to a flat finish shortly preceded by a steep climb.
It was a day that the break might fancy their chances and the race got off to an immediately fast start, with no breakaway clear with 20km gone.
Eventually seven riders were able to break away: Andrey Zeits (Astana) Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r La Mondiae), Aldemar Reyes (Manzana Postobon), Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Elie Gesbert (Arkéa Samsic), Sergio Samitier (Euskadi-Murias) and Edoardo Zardini (Neri Sottoli) worked their way to a maximum advantage of around three minutes.
But with such a short distance on the cards, the peloton weren’t happy to give them too much breathing room.
The break still held a decent lead over the first category climb of Forcella di Brez with 73km gone, but by the time they reached the final mountain pass, the category two climb of the Passo Predaia, their gap was dwindling at well under a minute.
The leaders began to split up on the climb, with four riders remaining with 24km to go and just a 23 second advantage, thanks to the work of Bahrain-Merida, Sky and Astana at the front of the bunch.
It wasn’t much longer until they caught the break, and with 23km Nibali attacked as they merged with the remaining riders in a now depleted peloton.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) did strong work in pursuit of Nibali with Sivakov and Geoghegan Hart, but the four-time Tour de France winner was dropped with 2.5km to the top of the climb and 21.4km to the finish after numerous attacks from Nibali.
The attack that dropped Froome saw only Geoghegan Hart, Sivakov and Majka able to follow.
Those four then set off down the final descent together, with no attacks coming until they reached a short but steep climb with around 5km to go.
They now only had eight seconds advantage on a regrouped bunch behind as they hit the last steep ramp, with Nibali attacking again as soon as they hit the climb.
Nothing could separate the four, but Majka was able to get a five second gap with 4.1km remaining and he pressed on as the road flattened towards the finish line in Cles.
He couldn’t hold on to it though with the Sky duo in pursuit, with Nibali sitting on. Despite their work to bring Majka back, race leader Sivakov was able to lead out Geoghegan Hart towards the line, with the Brit able to hold his sprint against Nibali who tried to match him.
The Tour of the Alps concludes tomorrow with a 148.7km stage from Caldaro to Bolzano.
Tour of the Alps 2019, stage four: Baselga di Pinè to Cles (134km)
1 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, in 3-26-32
2 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
3 Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky, all at same time
5 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 4s
6 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
7 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom–Rusvelo
8 Hubert Dupont (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Esp) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
10 Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team, all at same time
General classification after stage four
1 Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky, in 14-53-40
2 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at 27s
3 Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 31s
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 33s
5 Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team, at 48s
6 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 1-03
7 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom–Rusvelo, at 2-04
8 Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF, at 2-30
9 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky, at 2-34
10 Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana Pro Team