Tao Geoghegan Hart takes first professional win on Tour of the Alps 2019 stage one

The Brit sprinted to victory from a reduced bunch of climbers that made it to the finish

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Team Sky) took his first professional victory on stage one of the 2019 Tour of the Alps, sprinting to the line first from a reduced bunch of climbers. The 24-year-old also takes the overall lead, with his team leader Chris Froome sitting in sixth place at 10 seconds due to time bonuses on the line.

Geoghegan Hart was part of a leading bunch that had been severely reduced over the first stage in the Alps, and was able to get ahead first on the flat but twisty route into the finish line.

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After launching his move with a few hundred metres to go, the Briton was narrowly able to hold off Alex Aranburu (Caja Rural) and Roland Thalmann (Vorarlberg Santic) as they rapidly gained on him in the sprint for the finish.

Geoghegan Hart was able to hold on to take victory however, finishing in front of a group that also contained Froome, Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) who will all have their eyes on the overall title.

How it happened

The opening stage of the week of testing climbing in the Tour of the Alps 2019 ran over 144km starting and finishing in Kufstein, with a number of testing climbs. A flat run to the line would feature at the end of the stage after the descent from the final climb.

The race’s first breakaway group was able to escape early on, with the four of Maximilian Kuen (Vorarlberg), Patrick Gamper (Tirol-KTM), Matthias Krizek (Felbermayr) and Emil Dima (Giotti Victoria – Palomar) gaining a maximum gap of around 5-40 on the peloton.

Astana and Team Sky were the two teams putting in the most energy on the front of the chasing bunch, gradually eating in to the advantage of the escapees. With 30km to go the gap was down below two minutes and the pace was accelerating in the peloton now led by Astana.

It took until just under 16km to go for the final remnants of the break to finally be caught, but that catch led to the first attacks out of the overall favourites.

Vincenzo Nibali launched a stinging attack on the race’s final ascent, with Team Sky pair Geoghegan Hart and Pavel Sivakov as well as Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) following him.

Vincenzo Nibali attacks on stage one of the 2019 Tour of the Alps (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

They were initially able to gain around 18 seconds on the bunch, but that quickly began to drop to around eight seconds as Astana led the pursuit, unwilling to let Nibali gain an early advantage in the race.

With 4km remaining, Pello Bilbao (Astana) made a move from the peloton and was pursued by Froome. That attack brought everything back together again, with riders now speeding down the descent towards the finish in Kufstein.

The attacking and the numerous climbs had really reduced numbers in the bunch, and bar a late surge by Majka off the front, it was clear this would come down to a sprint between the climbers that had made it this far.

Geoghegan Hart was the one able to spot the opportunity and made an early move within the final 500m, narrowly holding off Alex Aranburu to take his first professional victory.

Results

Tour of the Alps 2019, stage one: Kufstein to Kufstein (144k)

1 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, in 3-30-48
2 Alex Aranburu (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
3 Roland Thalmann (Sui) Team Vorarlberg Santic
4 Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana Pro Team
5 Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
6 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
7 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom–Rusvelo
8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10 Dayer Quintana (Col) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM, all at same time

General classification after stage one

1 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, in 3-30-48
2 Alex Aranburu (Esp) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, at four seconds
3 Roland Thalmann (Sui) Team Vorarlberg Santic, at six seconds
4 Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana Pro Team, at 10 seconds
5 Nikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
6 Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky
7 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom–Rusvelo
8 Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10 Dayer Quintana (Col) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM, all at same time

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