Dennis and Caruso Test the Legs on Tour of the Alps Stage 117. April 2017, Innsbruck — Road Team
With 2000m of climbing, the opening stage of the Tour of the Alps acted a precursor of what's to come over the five-day stage race as Rohan Dennis and Damiano Caruso both tested their legs on the final climb to secure top ten finishes.
After 5km, an early 6-rider breakaway went clear however the gap was kept under tight control and hovered around two minutes over the first half of the 142.3km stage.
As the breakaway reached the foot of the first categorized climb of the day, the Brandenberg, their advantage had fallen to under one minute, and they were eventually caught on their way to the summit.
The day’s second climb came in quick succession and saw riders dropping off the back of the main bunch as they headed up the short but sharp 1.6km climb of Aschau, which topped out with 61km of racing remaining.
Numerous attacks soon followed, and three riders were able to go clear with 35km to go. Their advantage quickly settled at around two minutes with the peloton strung out in a line behind them.
Gaps began to form in the main bunch as they continued to chase the remaining breakaway riders before only a select group of around 50 riders reached the punchy 3.7km climb to the finish line.
Attacks quickly began to fly off the front of the reduced bunch before a late move from Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) saw riders scattered across the road going under the flamme rouge.
In the end, it was Michele Scarponi (Astana Pro Team) who took the stage win ahead of the Team Sky rider and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ).
Rohan Dennis and Damiano Caruso were also well placed in the closing meters of the climb, and they crossed the line together to round out the top ten in Innsbruck.
Quotes from the Finish Line
"I was feeling really good all day and the only time I was really struggling was probably the last 1.5km of that final climb. I've done a big building block of training since leaving Catalunya early, and I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now. This race is all about sharpening my skills for the Giro d'Italia."
"This is a pretty hard week-long tour, and a lot of the time, guys come here to test their legs to see where their form is and gain some confidence. Today was the easiest day, and it just keeps getting harder from here."
"On paper today was the easiest stage, but in the end, it was pretty hard and fast. On the last climb we went full gas and finished in the top ten, but I think the situation can change every day here because there is no easy day."
"As a team, we have various cards to play, so we will see what's happens over the rest of the week and I will look for opportunities as they come."
Sports Director, Max Sciandri:
"We are taking the race day-by-day and using this race as a part of Rohan Dennis' final build-up for the Giro d'Italia so while he might have lost some time on the line today, we are not too worried about that. It is much more about the racing itself than putting any pressure on him to secure an overall result."
"The other guys this week have the opportunity to do their own race, and we saw that Damiano Caruso was up there at the finish today. This was a warm-up for what's to come this week and we will re-assess at the start of every day and see what we can do."
Tour of the Alps
Stage 1: Kufstein > Innsbruck, 142.3km
Top 3: 1. Michele Scarponi (Astana Pro Team) 2. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) 3. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 9. Rohan Dennis 10. Damiano Caruso 18. Brent Bookwalter