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Rohan Dennis wins shortened stage 2 at Tour of the Alps

Dennis wins shortened stage 2 at Tour of the Alps

19/04/2017 at 00:10Updated 20/04/2017 at 22:21

Rohan Dennis adds to previous Australian success at the race formerly known as Giro del Trentino with stage 2 win in Austrian Alps …

INNERVILLGRATEN, Austria — After a snowy start that ultimately shortened stage 2 at Tour of the Alps on Tuesday, Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) literally weathered the storm to claim his fourth win of the season dating back to his national time trial victory in January.

Dennis also continued a string of recent Aussie success started by retired BMC rider Cadel Evans and current teammate Richie Porte, both of whom won the race in 2014 and 2015 respectively when it was called Giro del Trentino.

“I saw today and thought it would be about 60 guys at the finish,” explained Dennis after the race. “If I had the legs I’d have go and that’s been my mentality this week. It’s best for me to just look kilometre by kilometre and get the best possible results at that point of the race instead of thinking too far ahead.

“Just take opportunities when they come.”

Without a time trial at this year’s five-day event, the 26-year-old former ‘hour record’ holder said prior to the race that it was a “challenge” and a “test” of what he needed to be a general classification (GC) rider in the future. However, even with that admission, Dennis said the day was not without its share of learning opportunities.

“I wasted the team’s energy way too much today,” he said. “I stopped for pee breaks, asked for gloves the wrong times and I was wasting energy, or their energy, and to be able to get the stage win for them was great to get their confidence in me as well.”

Italian Michele Scarponi (Astana), who was erroneously reported to have recorded his first win in six years by race commentators and media following his opening stage victory due to an apparent oversight on procyclingstats.com which has since been corrected, had indeed registered several wins in 2011, but in fact also won the Italian one-day race GP Costa Degli Etruschi in 2013.

However, the newly appointed Astana road captain and 2011 race winner surrendered the fuchsia leader’s jersey to Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who finished second in front of Davide Ballerini (Androni Giocattoli) a day after taking third.

“It was surprise for me to end up in the leader jersey today, didn't expect it,” said Pinot, who holds same time with second-place Scarponi and three seconds over Geraint Thomas (Team Sky). “It was a fast stage under cold conditions, but I like those conditions and it was not a problem for me. But I didn't expect to be in the jersey today.”

Dennis currently sits in seventh place, 11 seconds down on GC and one-second back on 2012 race winner Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale).

“I lost a little bit of time yesterday in the final, it wasn’t completely a back line for me but technically I didn't probably ride it perfectly,” admitted Dennis. “I lost time which is not great when it comes to any overall ambitions, but today helps my confidence.”

The race crossed from Austria into Italy before culminating back across the Austrian border in Innervillgraten. Originally scheduled for 181.3km out of Innsbruck, the route was altered by race officials due to severe snowfall and reduced to 140.4km from Vipiteno — thus negating what could have been a treacherous Brenner Pass descent.

“We are very saddened by the loss of this start, also for its symbolical meaning, but we realise there was actually no other choice,” said Josef Margreiter, Director of Tirol Werbung. “The rider’s safety must come first, so we totally agree with the UCI decision to shorten the stage.”

Rohan Dennis adds to previous Australian success at the race formerly known as Giro del Trentino with stage 2 win in Austrian Alps (Daebong Kim)

Rohan Dennis adds to previous Australian success at the race formerly known as Giro del Trentino with stage 2 win in Austrian Alps (Daebong Kim)Other Agency

After the race eventually kicked off near the border, the peloton was quickly met with sunnier skies and warmer temperatures as it chased a four-rider break with a two-minute lead.

The early leaders Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Simone Velasco (Bardiani-CSF), Niccolò Salvietti (Sangemini-MG.Kvis) and Patrick Gamper (Tirol) averaged a blistering 50.2 km/h in the first hour of racing.

The breakaway dropped to an average speed of 43.8 km/h in the second hour of racing and their gap over the field narrowed. Ackermann rode on to take the sole intermediate sprint in Sillian with 44km remaining, followed by Gamper and Salvietti. However, the peloton closed the gap heading into the St Justina climb with 27.5km to go thanks in part to Gazprom-RusVelo’s tenacious work on the front.

Four riders split from the group, including last year’s race winner Mikel Landa (Team Sky), Ilia Koshevoy (Wilier Triestina), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF) and Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom-RusVelo). Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) joined them before all were eventually absorbed by the final kilometre.

Wednesday’s queen stage features two category 1 climbs over a mountainous 143.1km route from Villabassa to Funes as the race returns to Italy.

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