Tour of Austria: Peter Kennaugh claims victory on opening stage to take race lead

Last Updated: 06/07/14 6:28pm

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Peter Kennaugh: Took a classy win in his new jersey

Peter Kennaugh: Took a classy win in his new jersey

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Peter Kennaugh won the opening stage of the Tour of Austria in his first race in the British national champion's jersey.

The Manxman benefited from some strong riding from his Team Sky team-mates who worked tirelessly to reel in the breakaway before setting up the 25-year-old on the steep run into Sonntagberg.

Kennaugh, who was not selected as part of Team Sky's Tour de France squad, launched his attack inside the last two kilometres and surged clear to take the win by 11 seconds ahead of Olivier Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Javier Moreno (Movistar) who rounded out the podium places.

The opening stage in Austria began in scorching conditions and it wasn't long before a breakaway was established as Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Dennis Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol), Andreas Hofer (Team Vorarlberg) and Martin Weiss (Team Tyrol) broke clear in the opening kilometres.

The five riders opened up a maximum advantage of 6 minutes 35 seconds as Haas claimed the two intermediate sprints, while Belkov took the mountains points over the top of the first two-categorised climbs of the day.

Team Sky moved to the front of the peloton to set the pace as they looked to haul back the breakaway ahead of the final and decisive climb of the day. The escapees were eventually reeled in with 14km to go and the general classification contenders came to the fore on the testing climb to Sonntagberg.

Climbing test

“I felt good and all the team really committed," Kennaugh told TeamSky.com after the race. "Josh (Edmondson) rode great on the penultimate climb – that’s where we really set the tempo. Ian Boswell and Christian Knees were awesome as well. I was just happy I could finish it off. It’s a good start and it makes up for a bit of disappointment for missing out on the Tour (de France).
“I had good legs at the nationals and I didn’t do much during the week. I just took it easy and spent time with my family so I wasn’t sure how my legs would be. I knew I couldn’t lose too much in a week.”
On the prospect of defending the yellow jersey Kennaugh is optimistic and looking to gauge his form during the next week.
He continued: “Today we only had relatively short climbs which I know I’m pretty good at but I know it could be different once we get onto the longer climbs in the mountains. Hopefully I’ll defend the jersey as best I can. There’s a 24km time trial to come so I’ll try to follow, save energy and see how my legs are on the mountains. If they carry on like they felt today it would be nice to podium or possibly win it.” 

Both Kennaugh and Kanstantsin Siutsou were delivered in prime position thanks to some strong work by Ian Boswell as the dwindling peloton hit the slopes of the last climb.

Kennaugh made his move inside the last two kilometres and held off the chasers to take the win by 11 seconds and move into the race lead while Siutsou came in 36 seconds behind the newly crowned British national champion to take ninth on the day.

Kennaugh will head into the second stage with a 15 second lead thanks to the four second time bonus he picked up on the finish line.

 

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