Felix Grossschartner showed determination and ambitious character, fighting for bonus seconds on the final stage of Tour of Austria. He just missed out on the overall podium, claiming 4th place.
Info: Stage 6, 8th of July, St. Johann Alpendorf – Wels, 203,9km
Course: undulating (two cat 3 and one cat. 2, last one with 90km to go)
How it unfolded
Before the last stage the race for the overall podium was still open, since after 6 days of competition it was still tight in the top 5. Felix Grossschartner was sitting in 4th, only 6 seconds behind 3rd Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) and with three intermediate sprints, where bonus seconds were up for grabs, anything could happen.
First half of the stage was extremely fast and lively. Among the most aggressive riders was Jan Tratnik, who went away on the second, cat. 3 climb. He won the GPM and after cresting the top was joined by 6 runners. Peloton was not happy with that move though and brought them back in, closing 40-second gap.
The day’s main escape was formed as late as after over 90km of racing, when Laurens De Vresse (Astana), Remy Di Gregorio (Delko Marseille Provence KTM) and Reinier Honig (Team Vorarlberg) opened up a lead. But that action didn’t last too long, even though the trio recorded maximum advantage of over 4 minutes.
They were reeled in, by shattered peloton, after last hill of the race. 60 riders were in the main pack heading into final 30km of the stage. Leszek Pluciński, Patryk Stosz and Jakub Kaczmarek where up there to support Felix Grossschartner in his battle for bonus seconds, at two remaining intermediate sprints. Austrian won first and was second at the second sprint, gaining 5 seconds to his overall time. He reduced the gap to 3rd in GC, Lopez, to just 1 second.
Those efforts cost him a lot of energy and was unable to repeat it at the finish line. He had to settle for 4th place in general standings (21st place on the stage). Clement Venturini (Cofidis) sprinted to stage victory, ahead of Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale Drapac) and Pim Ligthart (Roompot – Nederlandse Loterijm).
Stefan Denifl (Aqua Blua Sport) secured an overall win and was joined on the podium by Delio Fernandez Cruz (Delko Marseille Provence KTM) and Miguel Angel Lopez.
It’s a very nice feeling to finish my home race, so high in the standings. Especially, that I was coming off Giro d’Italia and Tour de Suisse, so I raced here with no real preparation prior – Felix Grossschartner said. – Today I really wanted to get onto the podium, since the race ended in my home town, Wels, where cycling is very popular. My family and friends were at the finish and I wanted to take that top 3 spot for them.
I started the final stage with all or nothing attitude. I didn’t care if I finished 4th or 10th. My goal was to move up to overall podium and to do my best. At second intermediate sprint I was sprinting against four Astana riders. There was not much space, I had to slow down a little bit, losing my speed, taking “only” 2nd. At the end of the day I can be satisfied with my performance, since I left everything on the road.