Simon Yates took the overall title after stage five of the Tour of the Alps 2021 with Felix Großschartner holding on from the breakaway to cross the line first and take the stage victory.
Yates’ squad, Team BikeExchange, had control of the race for almost the entire day despite 16 riders including Irishman Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation). Almost all of the break was brought back on the final climb with Yates’s team-mates neutralising any attack.
Großschartner (Bora-Hansgrohe) attacked the leading group at the base of the final climb to go clear from the rest with no-one able to follow the Austrian climber. He quickly pulled out a convincing lead and descended to victory.
Nicolas Roche (DSM) and Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) tried to hold off the peloton to take the podium spaces on the stage with Roche managing to out-sprint De Marchi.
Yates finished comfortably within the peloton along with Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) and Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) who stayed at 58 seconds and 1-06 in GC.
How it happened
The stage started in the town of Idroland at Valle del Chiese before tackling the five climbs of the day during the 120.9km, only two of the climbs are categorised on their way to Riva del Garda.
They passed the finish line three times before the finish as the peloton took on the Lago di Tenno climb twice with just the first passage giving out points in the mountains competition. The other categorised climb on the day came earlier on the Passo Duron.
A huge breakaway of 16 riders got away including potential threats to the overall including Martin who slipped down the general classification on stage four after crashing on the fast descent. He started the day just over four minutes down in 14th place.
The break held a maximum gap of three minutes but was not giving much breathing space due to the dangerous riders in the general classification.
The break broke down with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Roche, De Marchi, Georg Steinhauser (Tirol-KTM), Großschartner, Tony Gallopin (Ag2r-Citroën) and Julen Amezqueta (Caja Rural) going clear before the first ascent of the Tenno climb.
Trek-Segafredo were put onto the front to chase down the break to try and go for the stage but they had just over two minutes with 38km to go. Astana-Premier Tech started really pushing the tempo with Luis León Sánchez leading birthday boy Aleksandr Vlasov to maybe set up an attack at the 32km to go mark.
Nothing came of that move and BikeExchange retook control of the peloton on the descent down to the second of three passages of the finish line.
The chasing group were slowly catching the leaders had Martin in there as well as Iván Sosa (Ineos Grenadiers), Michael Storer (DSM), Matteo Fabbro (Bora-Hansgrohe), Vadim Pronskiy (Astana-Premier Tech) and Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain Victorious) but they struggled to make it across.
Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) attacked on the first descent of the Tenno climb and really committed to the chase, almost overcooking a sharp hairpin on the way down. He caught Martin on the valley bottom.
The leaders were working well together coming into the second ascent of the Tenno with 22km to go, they held just over a minute on the chasing peloton as they crossed the finish line for the penultimate time.
Most of the chasing groups were brought back before the final ascent. This included Brambilla and Martin as well as Sosa’s group. Storer hit out alone to try and bridge to the leaders.
Storer managed to get across to the leaders on the early slopes of the climb but Großschartner had launched an early attack. Pinot and Steinhauser got dropped straight away. Amezqueta and Roche then lost touch as Gallopin and De Marchi continued the chase of the Austrian climber.
But Großschartner only held about 40 seconds back to the chasing peloton that was still being led by Yates’ team of BikeExchange with Ineos Grenadiers following closely. An Astana-Premier Tech rider clipped a wheel and went down hard taking out several riders on the climb, most of the riders fighting for the overall managed to avoid the spill with 17km to go.
The Austrian extended his lead again thanks to his fast pace pushing the gap to Roche and De Marchi to 43 seconds and 1-30 back to the peloton. The first attack went away with Alejandro Osorio (Caja Rural) launching the first move from the peloton.
Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) and Ruben Guerreiro (EF-Nippo) then countered that but BikeExchange controlled everything to calm the pacing down. At the 13km to go mark as Großschartner went over the top.
Großschartner held on all the way to the line with Roche and De Marchi managing to hold off the peloton to fill the podium spots on the stage. Yates finished comfortably within the peloton alongside the podium sitters of Bilbao and Vlasov.
Yates and a lot of the other riders in the race will now turn their attention towards the fight for pink at the first Grand Tour of the season at the Giro d’Italia which kicks off on May 8.
Tour of the Alps 2021 stage five, Valle del Chiese/Idroland to Riva del Garda (120.9km)
1. Felix Großschartner (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 3-03-38
2. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM, at 34 seconds
3. Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-Up Nation, at same time
4. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers, at 40s
5. Alejandro Osorio (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
6. Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM
7. Luis León Sánchez (Esp) Astana-Premier Tech
8. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
9. Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain Victorious
10. Matteo Fabbro (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe, all at same time.
Final general classification
1. Simon Yates (GBr) Team BikeExchange, in 18-36-06
2. Pello Bilbao (Esp) Bahrain Victorious, at 58 seconds
3. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana-Premier Tech, at 1-06
4. Jefferson Cepeda (Ecu) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at 2-25
5. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Education-Nippo, at 2-37
6. Pavel Sivakov (Rus) Ineos Grenadiers, at 2-44
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkéa-Samsic, at 2-54
8. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo, at 3-12
9. Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM, at same time
10. Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange, at 3-36.