Team Sky staved off a late assault on their GC ambitions in the 2019 Tour of the Alps as Pavel Sivakov claimed his maiden stage race win.
For a while it looked like Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermic) could snatch the leader’s jersey, as he opened up a virtual lead of over three minutes in the overall classification as the Italian went in the day’s break and exploded the leading group on the final climb.
Masnada was not left with nothing, though, as he claimed the stage win after attacking Carlos Quintero (Manzana Postobon) on the flat with only a couple of kilometres remaining.
In second place overall was Sivakov’s team-mate, Tao Geoghegan-Hart, who finished 27 seconds down on the Russian. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) was third, 33 seconds behind Sivakov, with Mattia Cattaneo (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermic) moving up to fourth, after finishing with the GC group of Sivakov, finishing over two minutes down on the day to Masnada who managed to sneak into the top five on GC.
It was the last outing in a Team Sky jersey for Chris Froome, who played a pivotal part in closing the gap by taking a huge turn on the front to guard Sivakov’s lead.
The 21-year-old Sivakov said in his post-race interview: “Today was a really tricky race with a really strong breakaway but the team did it perfectly. For a bit there I was a bit stressed but the guy’s did just amazing. This isn’t just my victory, it’s our victory, with Tao winning two stages and today we managed the race perfectly. It’s just amazing you know.”
How it happened
The final 147.8km course featured two servings of climbing as the last chance to shake things up on GC. First up was the second category Collalbo/Klobenstein followed by the final climb of the Tour of the Alps, the first category San Genesio.
A large group of 18 riders went away quickly, before a whittling down process began leaving a to produce a breakaway group of nine riders: Dario Cataldo (Astana), Nikita Stalnov (Astana), Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Álvaro Cuadros (Caja Rural – Seguros RGA), Roland Thalmann (Vorarlberg Santic), Carlos Quintero (Manzana Postobon), Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi Basque Country – Murias), Simone Velasco (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM), and Alexis Vuillermoz (Ag2r la Mondiale). After 90km of racing, they had opened up an advantage of 6-40.
On the descent to Bozen, Rafał Majka and one of his Bora-Hansgrohe team-mates crashed just before the start of the final climb of the Tour of the Alps up to San Genesio.
It was in fact at the base of San Genesio where Masnada started to increase the pressure on the breakaway group, dropping all of them bar Quintero, as he went into the virtual overall lead.
With 6-30 advantage ahead of the main bunch containing Sivakov, Masnada needed to finish with an advantage of at least 3-37 to claim the overall classification.
Team Sky then began the chase, with Froome blowing apart the peloton as they raced onto the San Genesio.
Froome eventually pulled off the front with 30km remaining and only a few kilometres of the climb left, with Majka also falling back but eventually hanging on.
Almost as soon as Froome had dropped, Nibali attacked. Sitting fourth in GC and 33 seconds down, the Italian needed to animate the race in order to give himself a chance of victory.
Sivakov followed Nibali’s wheel, with Jan Hirt (Astana), Geoghegan Hart and Cattaneo all getting back on as well.
As the two up front crested the top of San Genesio, Masnada had a 30 second virtual lead in the overall classification. Further back, Nibali attacked once more with Sivakov again grabbing the Italian’s wheel as the group stayed together, but Masnada’s advantaged was collapsing.
With 23km remaining, Sivakov was back in the virtual lead, as Quintero suffered a mechanical and Masnada decided not to wait for him. The two did come back back together, but the previous agreement of Masnada aiming for the GC and Quintero being allowed to take the stage win was left in tatters.
Their advantage eventually came down to around the two-minute mark, with Masnada attacking Quintero with 1.6km remaining, opening up a gap over the Colombian as he took his second stage win of the week.
Tour of the Alps 2019, stage five: Kaltern/Caldaro – Bozen/Bolzano (147.8km)
1 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermic, in 4-02-26
2 Carlos Quintero (Col) Manzana Postobon, at 7 seconds
3 Simone Velasco (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM, at 1-31
4 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana, at same time
5 Roland Thalmann (Sui) Vorarlberg Santic, at 1-33
6 Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 2-14
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
8 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermic
9 Tao Geoghegan-Hart (Gbr) Team Sky
10 Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky, all at same time
General classification after stage five
1 Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Team Sky, in 18-58-00
2 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky, at 27s
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida, at 33s
4 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermic, at 1-03
5 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli – Sidermic, at 1-13
6 Rafał Majka (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-46
7 Jan Hirt (Cze) Astana Pro Team, at 2-03
8 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana, at 2-58
9 Roland Thalmann (Sui) Vorarlberg Santic, at 3-14
10 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Gazprom–Rusvelo, at 4-27