Tour of the Alps stage 5: Tao Geoghegan Hart sends message with GC domination

Follow all the action in the Giro d'Italia warmup race that's drawing some of the peloton's top names.

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Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost) won out of a breakaway in Friday’s finale at the Tour of the Alps.

A dozen pulled clear in the lumpy final stage in the five-day Giro d’Italia warmup race, and Carr had the legs to fend off everyone for the big win. Only 74 riders finished the final stage as cold, wind, and rain pelted the pack.

Behind him, Ineos Grenadiers kept things firmly under control to deliver Tao Geoghegan Hart the overall victory.

“It was a fantastic week for me and the whole team, and we showed once again what we are made of in this fifth and final stage,” he said. “I don’t see this victory as a way of proving anything to the team about my role for upcoming races: I believe that in cycling and in life what you give – sooner or later – comes back to you.”

The GC win is his first overall title since winning the Giro in 2020 and is the latest sign that the British rider is back on track. In fact, he hadn’t won any race since that Giro until this season. Now he has four wins and he’s going into the Giro with momentum.

Geoghegan Hart won the opening two stages, and then the Ineos train took over to tap down Bora-Hangrohe and Bahrain Victorious.

Hugh Carthy pushed on through rough weather Friday to finish second overall for EF Education-EasyPost, while Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) rounded out the podium in third.

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Stage 4: Gregor Mühlberger wins from break, Tao Geoghegan Hart keeps overall lead


Gregor Mühlberger wins stage 4 of the Tour of the Alps
Gregor Mühlberger wins stage 4 of the Tour of the Alps (Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images)

Gregor Mühlberger (Movistar) took his first win in two years in a three-man sprint in Brentonico San Valentino as the breakaway held off the peloton on stage 4 of the Tour of the Alps.

Mühlberger launched his dash for the line with less than 300 meters to go and held his position right until the line. Torstein Træen (Uno-X) took second with Giulio Pellizzari (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF) finishing third.

The trio had been part of a bigger breakaway that had gone up the road on the first climb of the day and had split up on the last one. Race leader Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) finished in the bunch and held onto his green jersey with one stage to go.

“A lot of time passed since the last win. I’m super happy, I’m super grateful, especially with this team, it was amazing to ride. We were four guys in the breakaway and on the last climb I did my best to keep up with the guys. Chapeau to the young rocket from Bardiani, this is a super gun for the future. He has some great time ahead,” Mühlberger said after the stage.

Stage 4 of the Tour of the Alps gave no mercy to the riders and saw the peloton riding up the first category ascent of the Passio Sommo almost immediately after the flag dropped for racing to begin.

Several groups tried to get away on the climb before an 11 rider move went clear after just 16km. Three more would eventually get across, with Movistar placing four riders into the break.

The gap quickly built up and grew to almost five minutes at one point before the peloton started trimming down their advantage. However, it seemed as though most of the peloton was happy to let the stage win be fought out between the escapees, but Euskaltel-Euskadi did not harbor such feelings and the Basque squad lit up the pace inside the final 30 kilometers in an effort to launch a rider across the gap.

As the race hit the final ascent, the breakaway blew apart with Mühlberger, Pellizzari, and Træen ultimately moving clear. Behind, Euskaltel’s Mikel Bizkarra tried to get out of the bunch at 20km to go with American racer Matthew Riccitello (Israel-Premier Tech) following in his wheel, but the move was quickly squashed by the Ineos Grenadiers-led peloton.

Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Pellizzari broke clear of his remaining breakaway companions on the tougher part of the climb, leaving Træen and Mühlberger behind. He could only take, at most, 18 seconds and the descent off the final climb that would spell the end of his attack and he had to fight hard to keep on the wheels of the other two.

As the three leaders returned to the flat with less than 10k remaining, the gap to the peloton behind was still at 3:30. The trio would ride into the final meters together to contest the sprint. Mühlberger was the first to blink and the Austrian held off his companions to take the win.

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Stage 3: Lennard Kämna wins as Joe Dombrowski goes on attack

Joe Dombrowski on the attack at the Tour of the Alps. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Lennard Kämna won a thrilling battle in the Tour of the Alps, with Bora-Hansgrohe teammate Aleksandr Vlasov finishing second in Wednesday’s third stage summit finale.

Overnight leader Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) had to dig deep to defend his leader’s jersey, and crossed the line fourth on the climbing stage.

A big effort by Joe Dombrowski (Astana-Qazaqstan) gave a brave effort to win the stage, and hung on for 12th. WorldTour rookie Matthew Riccitello (Israel Premier Tech) punch into the top-10 with eighth in a wild stage.

“I am really glad it worked out today,” Kämna said. “For me it was the only option to go a little bit earlier, and I could get some speed. I was lucky the EF guy joined me, and I could hold on in the end for the win.”

Dombrowski was part of the day’s main breakaway and at one point rode into the virtual leader’s jersey. The gap was down to four minutes on the flats going into the final summit finish.

The American on Astana nursed a lead of about 1 minute with 7km after he left his breakaway companions in this wake. The GC group was being led by Ineos Grenadiers and Bora-Hansgrohe, when Lennard Kämna jumped out of the leader’s group.

Dombrowski’s gap quickly shrunk under Kämna’s pressure, whose move prompted the GC favorites to react on the upper reaches of the climb. Jefferson Cepeda (EF Education-EasyPost) bridged across to Kämna. Those two caught Dombrowski with just over 3km to go.

Behind, Pavel Sivakov led Ineos Grenadiers to protect Geoghegan Hart’s lead as the GC group dwindled to about a dozen riders. Geoghegan Hart jumped with about 2km to go and quickly reeled in Dombrowski. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost), Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious), and Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Qazaqstan) marked his wheel.

Kämna and Cepeda’s lead dwindled to 17 seconds with about 1.5km to go. Kämna jumped under the red kite to drop Cepeda to secure the stage win.

The Tour of the Alps continues Thursday with the 152.9km fourth stage from Rovereto to Predazzo. The stage opens with a Cat. 1 climb that could set up a breakaway move for the win. A second-category climb in the closing hour will set up a big battle to the line.

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Stage 2: Two in a row for Tao Geoghegan Hart

Geoghegan Hart made it two in a row at the Tour of the Alps. (Photo: (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images))

Tao Geoghegan Hart made it two in a row at the Tour of the Alps.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider stayed ahead of the hard-charging Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) in another slug-fest between Giro d’Italia-bound favorites in a rollercoaster stage Tuesday.

Santiago Buitrago came through third in a strong showing for Bahrain Victorious to lead the main chasers across the line at two seconds back.

“The team proved once again that they are the strongest in the race. We rode intelligently and controlled the break before dictating the pace on the final climb,” he said. “I’m looking forward to celebrating again with the whole team tonight.”

Ineos Grenadiers controlled the day’s main break, and Geoghegan Hart covered a few late-stage attacks, and then countered himself to drive to the line for the win.

The back-to-back stage victories solidified Geoghegan Hart atop the GC as the leading riders finished within a few seconds of each other in another intense day of racing. The bunch was fractured coming into the final string of climbs.

Pavel Sivakov also rode well for Ineos Grenadiers, kicking to fourth and moving up to fourth overall on GC.

Things will spice up even more Wednesday in the 162.5km third stage from Ritten to Brentonico San Valentino, ending with a first-category summit finish.

“Even today the race was more challenging than I expected, but tomorrow’s stage is certainly a different story. A final 15-kilometer climb will be a diverse and demanding test, and I’m sincerely looking forward to it,” he said. “At Tirreno-Adriatico the neutralization on the uphill finish prevented me from really testing myself on a climb of this magnitude. I don’t know the San Valentino climb, but I think it can give me some important answers.”

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Stage 1: Tao Geoghegan Hart strikes first blow

Tao Geoghegan Hart celebrates victory in opening stage. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Tao Geoghegan Hart struck the first blow in the opening stage at the Tour of the Alps.

The Ineos Grenadiers overcame a late-stage attack by Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Easypost) to win the stage. Felix Gall (AG2R-Citroën) came through second, with Carthy third, and Ivan Sosa (Team Movistar) and Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) rounding out the top-5.

Geoghegan Hart, a winner of the 2020 Giro d’Italia, said he’s not using the five-stage race as a springboard back to the “corsa rosa” next month.

“I’m not here in preparation for the Giro d’Italia, because that wouldn’t do justice to this fantastic race,” he said. “Each race is a story in itself, and I try to honor it as such: I never show up at the start of one event in preparation for another; I’m here to give it my all.”

Ineos Grenadiers comes loaded with a top squad, many of them also headed to the Giro next month. Pavel Sivakov also punched into the top 10 in Monday’s opening salvo.

Back to winning ways: ‘Winning today has tastes even sweeter’

Geoghegan Hart celebrates victory. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Geoghegan Hart’s first pro wins came at this race in 2019, heralding his rise at the Giro the next year when he came on strong in the final week to win the pink jersey.

Since then, injuries and perhaps expectations have weighed on him.

He’s come out gang-busters so far in 2023, with one win at the Volta a Valenciana earlier this season in what’s a contract year.

“To return to success on these roads is nice. Four years later is certainly a different experience,” he said after the race. “Among many things, my training method has changed. Now there is much more clarity and balance to my program, perhaps in the past I tended to train too much.

“Winning today tastes even sweeter because yesterday was my father’s birthday. With my job we don’t get to spend much time together, even less on special days – I wanted to dedicate today’s win to him, and I’m glad I was able to do that.”

The race continues Tuesday with the 165.2km second stage from Reith im Alpbachtal to Ritten. The stage features two short but steep climbs in the closing hour, before a fast and uneven kick to the line.

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