Astana Cycling Team (Italy) – It was a brave attack on the descent inside the last three kilometers, which brought a very beautiful victory to Pello Bilbao. The Astana Team rider made part of the leading group, which was formed on the final slopes of the Serrada, the last climb of the day. Coming into the descent it was Miguel Angel Lopez, who tried to attack first, but later it was Pello Bilbao, who was able to get a small gap, holding it until the finish line in Folgaria.
"We were motivated to do something good today, and in the final, we had a very good situation with five riders of our team in the leading group. It was a perfect position to try. The last kilometers of the climb were quite difficult with several attacks and a small gap between the riders on the top. But, later we could return in front. On the descent I saw my chance and I made an attack, immediately getting a small gap. Yeah, I was not sure at all I could do it until the end, knowing about the final uphill of 500 meters. Anyway, I was able to recover a bit on the final short descent and did my best inside the last kilometer. I am so happy with this victory, I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. Also, I am happy with all our team, we did a very strong and smart stage", said Pello Bilbao.
Stage 1 of the Tour of the Alps started in Arco and finished in Folgaria after 134,6 km and two difficult climbs. A break of 9 riders went away practically immediately after the start. But, the peloton did not give them too much space, keeping the gap under the full control.
A few attacks in front of the peloton on the climb of Serrada produced a huge selection in the group, but still five Astana Team riders have stayed well placed among the leaders. Despite the new attacks at the top of the climb, nobody could get an advantage until Pello Bilbao launched his attack on the descent to win this stage and to take the leader’s jersey.
"Exactly one year ago it was Michele Scarponi, who won the first stage and took this leader’s jersey. He is always in our minds and day by day we are racing remembering him. I am happy to take this jersey today and I want to dedicate it to Michele. This is a great opportunity for me and the whole team to do it", added Pello Bilbao.
Indeed, Astana Team did a very strong race, having 5 riders in the final and the most decisive part of this stage. As result, it was Luis Leon Sanchez, who led the group behind Pello Bilbao into the finish line, taking a nice second podium place ahead of Ivan Ramiro Sosa.
After the first stage Pello Bilbao leads the general classification of the race with 10 seconds to Luis Leon Sanchez and 12 seconds to Sosa.
Stage 2 of the Tour of the Alps will be held tomorrow: it will be a very hard stage from Lavarone to Alpe di Pampeago – Fiemme with a total distance of 145,5 km.
Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto.