7/1/2013 - NEWS!
Seeldraeyers wins second straight stage in Austria
July 1, Stage 2: Innsbruck - Kitzbüheler Horn 157.4km
Tour of Austria race leader Kevin Seeldraeyers won for the second straight day with a victory atop the taxing Kitzbüheler Horn mountain finish, leading an Astana sweep of the stage's top three places. Seeldraeyers was followed across the line by teammates Alexandr Dyachenko, at five seconds, and Fabio Aru, at 14 seconds.
Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) finished fourth at 26 seconds while Riccardo Zoidl (Team Gourmetfein Simplon) rounded out the top five at 37 seconds.
With the stage victory Seeldraeyers increased his overall lead with Dyachenko now second at 43 seconds followed by Zoidl at 59 seconds.
"Today I had really strong legs and can not believe it's my second stage victory within almost 24 hours," said Seeldraeyers.
The 157.4km stage from Innsbruck to Kitzbüheler Horn kicked off at a rapid tempo as multiple attacks went up the road trying to form the early break. Eventually three riders were successful with Federico Canuti (Cannondale), Alessandro Malaguti (Androni Giocattoli) and Harald Totschnig (Tirol Cycling Team) comprising the break of the day and after half of the stage was completed their lead stood at seven minutes over the peloton.
Seeldraeyers's Astana team steadily reduced the break's lead on the approach to the 7.1km finishing ascent with the Team Gourmetfein Simplon also providing pace-making assistance at the head of the peloton.
Just prior to the final climb the break's lead had dropped beneath two minutes and soon after beginning the climb to the finish, featuring a leg-searing maximum gradient of 22.3 percent, Totschnig dropped his two breakaway companions and set out on his own. Four kilometres from the finish, however, the Austrian was caught and dropped by a select group approximately 20 in number.
With three kilometres to go Dyachenko, Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Matija Kvasina (Team Gourmetfein Simplon) held a slight lead but soon Seeldraeyers took matters into his own hands.
"It's really hard to predict how the climb goes here, but the team did everything to control the race," said Seeldraeyers. "In the last group Dyachenko attacked ahead of me and Aru to set a pace, and about halfway up the mountain nobody with me could close the gap, so I jumped across. I looked back to see Aru and he was really suffering. When he came up to us a few minutes later I was surprised and really happy to see him."
It was a show of force from the Astana squad through to the finish and in the final push to the line Seeldraeyers would open up slight gaps on his two teammates.
In addition to strengthening his hold on the yellow jersey, Seeldraeyers also leads both the points and mountains classifications. His teammate Aru tops the young riders classification while Astana has a firm grasp on the team classification as well.
"Tomorrow is probaby a sprint stage, but then we go to Gross Glockner and climb across," Seeldraeyers said. "I was sick last year and fell out of the lead group, but it can be a dangerous place, so the team and I have a lot of work to do if we want to keep the jersey."
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Photo: © Mario Stiehl