• Rohan Dennis (BMC) sprints to the win ahead of Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) (Getty Images)
Rohan Dennis took out a snow-shortened stage at the Tour of the Alps, comfortably winning the sprint from the reduced bunch after a hard mountain stage.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
BMC Pro Team
19 Apr 2017 - 8:33 AM  UPDATED 19 Apr 2017 - 8:33 AM

The heavy snow saw the start line relocated from Innsbruck to Vipiteno, 44km into the previously planned 181.3km route, reducing the distance to a comparatively short 137 kilometres. It provoked some aggressive racing from the bunch, with Mikel Landa (Team Sky) the highest profile name to try his luck in the breakaway. 

The move was brought back within the final kilometre and the race was set for the reduced bunch kick on the uphill run to the line. After the stage Dennis was pleased with his performance and form ahead of his major goal for the season, the Giro d'Italia. 

"I'm feeling really happy after today," said Dennis, "I didn't expect to win, to be honest. I was just playing it by ear really. We knew that the finish was slightly uphill so I thought that if I was in a good position, I would give it a crack and see how I went. Today it worked perfectly."

"The team did a great job for me today, and I maybe used their energy at the wrong times on a couple of occasions today. But, I can definitely learn from that and I am really glad that I could repay them with the win."

The uphill sprint caught a number of riders out, with a number fading after launching a bit early in the piece, allowing Dennis to come from behind and sweep them up to take his first non-time trial win of the season.

"I was probably a little too far back when I launched my sprint, but I just said to myself 'go for it!'. I maybe got a bit lucky when the guys went a little too early in front of me, and it kicked up a bit more than they thought. Normally the tenth wheel would be too far back in a sprint, but today, it worked out perfectly for me."

The win puts Dennis in a good position ahead of the Giro d'Italia in May, as he aims to build form for his first real attempt to ride a Grand Tour for the General Classification.

"I have come here for the final bit of top-end racing to prepare me for next month, and this gives me a bit more confidence going into the Giro d'Italia for sure. Yesterday didn't go exactly to plan, and it knocked me a little bit, but I didn't let that get to me as I know I have done a lot of work recently. Today, that turned around but this wasn't the toughest stage of this race, and we will see more of where I am at over the next few stages."

The win moves Dennis in seventh overall, after the Australian lost some time on the previous day. BMC Sports Director, Max Sciandri gave his view on the race. 

"This is a pathway to the Giro d'Italia for Rohan, and there are still three hard days to come, but for sure, this is a good result here for us. For me, anything else is a bonus at this race now. The team will have a good morale going into the next few stages and we will see what happens."

The stage was also a day to remember for promising Aussie youngster Nick Schultz (Caja-Rural), who took fourth in the sprint and looks to be making the most of his first season racing for the Spanish squad.