Cycling: The second stage of the 66th International Tour of Austria from Waidhofen/Ybbs to Bad Ischl saw the first mass sprint: The Italian Cannondale pro Oscar Gatto triumphed in front of Jose Lobato (Movistar) and Carinthian Marco Haller (Katusha). In the overall standings, Pete Kennaugh (Sky) defended his lead.
The second stage of the 66th Int. Tour of Austria covered 180,9 kilometers from Waidhofen/Ybbs to the imperial city of Bad Ischl in the Salzkammergut. Immediately after the start, a steep climb awaited with the Kreuzgruberhöhe, where five riders were able to break away from the field. In addition to Frederik Backaert (Wanty Groupe Gobert) and the man in the Wiesbauer-Mountain jersey Maxim Belkov (Katusha), the Austrians Sebastian Schönberger (Gourmet Simplon), Hans-Jörg Leopold (WSA Greenlife) and Stephan Rabitsch ((Amplatz BMC) were also in the lead. Halfway through the race, the lead fluctuated around around four minutes in.
Before the last Wiesbauer-Mountain classification Hochlecken the teams from Sky and Astana increased the pace in the main field. At the first finish in Bad Ischl, around 20 kilometers from the finish, the advantage was only one minute. Meanwhile, Backaert broke away from his flight companions and a little later the quartet was swallowed up by the field. Especially Maxim Belkov, who won a stage at the Giro d'Italia last year and was in the leading group for a long time yesterday, again scored a lot of points in the Wiesbauer-mountain classification and further extended his lead.
Meanwhile, the Belgian Backaert was swallowed up by the peloton at the 10-kilometer mark. The pace was kept high by Marco Haller's Katusha team mate and so no driver was able to gain a decisive lead before the finish line. In an exciting bunch sprint, Oscar Gatto, who won a Giro d'Italia stage in 2011 ahead of Alberto Contador, triumphed: “My team-mates brought me perfectly to the last kilometer and I attacked 300 meters from the finish. It was a fantastic sprint win in front of a great crowd.”
Carinthian Marco Haller struggled with third place, but ensured the best Austrian placement at this year's Ö-Tour: “I wanted to win, but I didn't get into the last sharp corner right at the front. I almost ended up in the barricades, but it still worked out.”
Sky professional Pete Kennaugh defended his position on today's stage Wiesbauer East Tyrolleader jersey and is 15 seconds ahead of Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 24 seconds ahead of Javier Moreno (Movistar). Patrick Konrad from Gourmetfein Simplon defended his sixth place and is looking forward to tomorrow's climbing tour on the Kitzbüheler Horn: "For us, that was a stage to take a deep breath before the difficult days ahead. But you always have to be highly concentrated.” Riccardo Zoidl also survived today’s stage very well: “My form is very good, I saw that again today. The motto for the next few days is: attack!”
Tomorrow's third stage of the 66th International Tour of Austria is also the longest at 206 kilometers and leads from Upper Austria through Salzburg to Tyrol, where the difficult final climb up to the Kitzbüheler Horn awaits. After the start in Bad Ischl at 10:00 a.m., the two are waiting Wiesbauer-Mountain classifications Pass Gschütt and Pass Lueg, then the first lotteries-Sprint classification in Hohenwerfen Castle. After the sprint classifications in Zell am See and Leogang, we head in the direction of Kitzbühel, where the 7,6-kilometre Kitzbüheler Horn with a maximum gradient of 23 percent has the last Wiesbauer-Mountain classification in front of the Alpenhaus awaits the cycling pros. The finish line should be shortly after 15:00 p.m. But even before that, hundreds of amateur riders are busy pedaling in the “Krone Kitzhorn Challenge” starting at 12:00 p.m. in Kitzbühel.