Tour of the Alps stage 3: Lennard Kämna wins as Joe Dombrowski goes on attack

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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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, who’s 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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An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.