After Astana, BMC and FDJ, it was Team Sky’s turn to shine at the Tour of the Alps, as Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa finished first and second, with the Welshman moving into the leader’s jersey.
However, Cannondale-Drapac’s green – and in one case white – jerseys also stood out, with young British climber Hugh Carthy at the sharp end of a plan designed to derail the race’s headliners.
Wearing the white of best young rider, the 22-year-old talent’s surge five kilometres from the finish thinned out the lead group. Although his attack was neutralised and he was unable to follow the counter made by Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Landa, Carthy hung on to finish in the top 10 alongside team-mates Davide Formolo and Pierre Rolland, and in doing so kept the white jersey of best young rider for another day.
“It was a tough day, freezing cold all day,” he said after the finish. “We waited until the hardest section of the climb with 5k to go, and I attacked there with the aim of instigating something, to set something up for Formolo or Rolland, to see if anyone could counter the move.
“It was tricky because Astana and Sky were riding such a hard pace, so it was difficult to make an impact. But we tried,” he added.
Describing Thomas as “a force to be reckoned with at the moment” and the team that Sky’s race leader has around him as “impressively strong”, Carthy said he was pleased with his performance and happy to keep the white jersey as a by-product of that. He also highlighted Cannondale’s growing prominence in this race.
“The team is looking strong as a unit. We had three riders in the top 10 today and we can only regard that positively,” he said, acknowledging that this has given his whole team confidence looking ahead to the Giro d’Italia, which is now little more than a fortnight away.
Despite lining up with two fewer riders than several other teams, Sky too had good reason to be upbeat as their tactical approach eventually yielded the win they have been looking for this week.
“We managed our effort very well,” said Kenny Elissonde, who followed teammate Philip Deignan in setting the pace in the lead group on the final climb until Carthy’s bold attack.
“We were happy to let others do the work until the second half of the stage, so that we still had the numbers at the end to do the work,” said the Frenchman, who was all smiles at the finish despite the arctic temperatures at the finish.
“We’ve been looking for a victory since the start of the race and now we have it. When you pull hard like that and then see your team leader attack like a rocket, it’s an amazing sensation. It makes all of the effort you’ve made really worthwhile,” he said.