Sergio Pardilla finished 19th for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung in the first stage of the Tour of Austria (June 30-July 7 / UCI 2.HC). After an exciting finale, the Spaniard climbed to the finish 2.22 minutes behind Belgian solo winner and overall leader Kevin Seeldraeyers of Team Astana. Austrian champion Riccardo Zoidl (Gourmetfein Simplon) and US rider Joseph Dombrowski finished second and third on the 20 kilometer long closing climb. Second-best climber from the African team proved to be South African Dennis Van Niekerk in 38th place after 134.9 challenging kilometers from Innsbruck to Kühtai, at 2020 meters.
“That was a lot of hard work today,” said sport director Jens Zemke. “The strong riders showed up at the end. The race has a lot of great riders and the big teams aren’t giving anything away. The next days will be equally hard and we will continue to look for our chance.”
As is usual in Austria, the local teams are doing their best to affect the race. Shortly after the start, Austrian riders Josef Benetseder (WSA) and Stefan Praxmarer (Tirol) got away together with German Florian Bissinger (Vorarlberg) and Italian Antonio Parrinello (Androni). The escape group of the day built up a maximal lead of about seven minutes. On the final climb to the mountaintop finish in Kühtal, their gap melted drastically and the climbing specialist opened the fight for the stage win.
Mondays’s second stage takes the peloton over 157.4 kilometers from Innsbruck up to the feared final climb on the Kitzbüheler Horn.
The 65th edition of the International Tour of Austria started on Sunday June 30 in Innsbruck and runs over 1,115.2 kilometers and eight stages to the national capital, Vienna. Highlights of the race include the dreaded climb to to the Kitzbüheler Horn (stage 2), and the famous ride of the Großglockner (stage 4), where every year the „Glöckner King“ is crowned. The time trial specialists will have their day on the penultimate stage in the race against the clock along the Podersdorfer See before the race ends in a mass sprint in Vienna.