Another First in Sibiu
as Aussie Steele von Hoff wins stage 1
Australian Steele von Hoff of ONE Pro Cycling won the first stage of the 2016 Sibiu Cycling Tour. In the sprint finish after a 193.5 km stage he beat Italians Davide Viganò and Filippo Fortin to become the first Australian stage winner in the race's six-year history. The ten bonus seconds for the stage win were enough for von Hoff to pass yesterday’s fastest finisher Andrei Nechita and also take the lead in the overall classification.
A promising breakaway
Right from the start, there were some attempts to break away from the field, but nobody could escape on the early first climb to Dealul Dăii. The mountain sprint was won by Eduard Grosu (Nippo-Vini Fantini), and in the following kilometres a few groups built small gaps and were caught again.
Finally, a group of four riders was let go: Daniel Turek (Cycling Academy Team), Emil Dam Sørensen (Team Soigneur-Copenhagen Pro Cycling), Luis Mora (D'Amico Bottecchia) and Daniel Crista (Tuşnad Cycling Team). The four worked together well and built an advantage of several minutes. Crista won all three intermediate sprints of the day, securing the blue jersey for the leader in the intermediate sprint competition for the only Romanian Continental Team. With the 3 bonus seconds awarded at each sprint he also came close to challenge race leader Andrei Nechita, narrowing the gap down from 10 to 1 second.
86 km into the race the breakaway came to a stop at a closed level crossing. A military freight train took priority over the cycling race here, necessitating a restart when the train had passed. At this point, the breakaway had a gap of six minutes which later rose to more than eight minutes.
The green jersey for the best climber was fiercely contested among the escapees as young Venezuelan Mora took the first place on the category C Dealul Frumos climb ahead of Dane Emil Dam Sørensen and Daniel Turek from the Czech Republic. They finished in reverse order on the penultimate climb to Cisnădiora which meant that all three had scored 4 points, so the last ascent to Calugaru would decide the first leader in the mountain classification. Here, Cycling Academy Team's Turek accelerated from the bottom of the 1.9 km climb, dropping his breakaway companions one by one and earning himself the green jersey.
However, the green jersey wasn’t what Turek aimed for – he wanted the stage win and possibly the yellow leader's jersey. At the top of the final climb with 23.2 km to go he still had an advantage of more than two minutes on the peloton and took the technical descent at maximum speed to keep as much of it as possible coming back into Sibiu.
A sprint finish at last
In the end Turek’s advantage was not big enough, though, and he was caught with 3.5 km to go. In the sprint finish on the Bulevardul Victoriei it was Steele von Hoff who took the first win for an Australian rider in the Sibiu Cycling Tour after a perfect lead-out from his ONE Pro Cycling Team. Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec rider Davide Viganò finished second ahead of his fellow Italian countryman Filippo Fortin from GM Europa Ovini. Eduard Grosu was the best Romanian in fifth place.
Von Hoff took the overall lead from 19th-placed Andrei Nechita due to the bonus seconds he picked up for his win. He leads the points classification as well while former leader Nechita keeps the red jersey for the best Romanian in the race. Hayden McCormick finished with the lead group and will keep the orange jersey for the best young rider under 23 years.
After the stage, Daniel Turek said: “It was a hard day, but I enjoyed it. The 60 km following the re-start after the level crossing were the hardest, straight ahead on a big road with a headwind. In the final, I knew I was the strongest of the four of us, but it came as a surprise to me that I dropped them as fast as I did. From there, it was just about getting to the top as quickly as possible and then go all-in until the finish. The descent was technical, on three instances I took some risks, but eventually I felt the effort of a long day. When I could see the peloton behind me at the 4 km mark, I knew I wouldn't make it, so I stopped riding and was caught soon after. But it's nice to have the mountain jersey as a reward.”
Stage winner and new overall leader Steele von Hoff thanked his team: “My teammates did a great job in the final. We took a risk by not chasing the break when the gap was at eight minutes. Instead we waited until after the final climb, as I wasn't sure I could make it over that in the first group. Then we put John Ebsen on the front to assist in the chase, and when the last rider was caught the team did a perfect leadout, dropping me off at 150 m to go.”
1 Steele von Hoff (AUS) ONE Pro Cycling 4:42:38
2 Davide Viganò (ITA) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 0:00
3 Filippo Fortin (ITA) GM Europa Ovini 0:00
Jersey wearers on stage 2
Steele von Hoff (AUS) ONE Pro Cycling
Daniel Crista (ROU) Tușnad Cycling Team
Daniel Turek (CZE) Cycling Academy Team
Hayden McCormick (NZL) ONE Pro Cycling
Andrei Nechita (ROU) Romanian National Team
Davide Viganò (ITA) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, leader is Steele von Hoff
The full results can be downloaded here.