Last year’s Tour of Austria was dominated by current CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders. It was won by Victor de la Parte, Jan Hirt finished 3rd, while Felix Grossschartner took home King of the Mountains jersey. One rider from that trio will represent the “orange squad” in this year’s edition.
Jan Hirt will be the team’s leader for the general classification. Czech, who is at his best in the big mountains, showcased good form during Tour de Suisse and proved to be among the riders to beat. On the long and steep climbs he can expect support from other climbers, such as Sylwester Szmyd, Adrian Honkisz, Marcin Mrożek and Leszek Pluciński.
Two U23 Polish championships medalists made the roster as well – Patryk Stosz (gold in time trial) and Piotr Brożyna (bronze in road race).
Tour of Austria 2016 (July 2nd-9th) consists of 7 stages plus the prologue. The opening stage will have an unusual format, since it will be only 600 meters long, all uphill in Kitzbüheler Horn. Next two stages are tailored to sprinters and the finale of stage 3 goes on short, but steep ascent to Sonntagberg.
First, and arguably the most decisive stage, will be held on fifth day of racing (July 6th). It features over 15-kilometer climb to Edelweissspitze (2554 m above sea level, HC cat.) in the end. The riders will have the opportunity to test their legs also on two cat. 3 climbs. Next day will be slightly easier, but still extremely hard, with mountain top finish in Dobratsch (1742m, cat.1). The stage is relatively short – 155km – and mostly flat until the bottom of the climb, so we can expect an enormous pace of climbing.
Final two stages won’t be as extreme, but may also bring some changes in the overall standings. On the penultimate day of racing there are two hills (cat 2 and 3) on the menu, and the second one is located 34 kilometers away from the line. To wrap the race up, the riders will tackle a stage which could have been called a “sprinters’ stage”, if it wasn’t for the last, 2 kilometers. A punchy ascent leads to the top of Kahlenberg, near Wien. Thus, the competition for the GC win will be intense to the very end.
Prologue – Kitzbüheler Horn – Kitzbüheler Horn (0,6km)
Stage 1 – Innsbruck – Salzburg (186,7km)
Stage 2 – Mondsee – Steyr (194,3km)
Stage 3 – Stift Ardagger – Sonntagberg (179,7km)
Stage 4 – Rottenmann – Edelweißspitze (183,3km)
Stage 5 – Millstatt – Dobratsch (155km)
Stage 6 – Graz – Stegersbach (195,9km)
Stage 7 – Bad Tatzmannsdorf – Wien (187,8km)
Lineup of CCC Sprandi Polkowice to Tour of Austria (2-9.07.2016, 2.1): Jan Hirt, Marcin Mrożek, Leszek Pluciński, Sylwester Szmyd, Adrian Honkisz, Patryk Stosz, Piotr Brożyna