After taking fourth place yesterday, Koch was motivated to try again on what would most likely be the final stage for the faster men in the bunch and with just one rider left out in front approaching the third and final categorized climb, which topped out with around 25 kilometers to go, CCC Team took control of the race.
An initial battle saw the Polish team stay attentive at the front of the field in the first 10 kilometers before four riders went clear to open up an advantage that settled at around two minutes 30 seconds over the first half of the race.
The pressure mounted for the breakaway heading into the final 70 kilometers, and as the gap began to fall, just two riders remained in front going over the second, and steepest, climb, which at just 1.9-kilometers long had an average gradient of 11.9 percent.
CCC Team quickly reacted when the duo’s advantage extended back out to over three minutes and this increase in pace eventually signaled the end of the road for the early leaders.
With the race back together, Koch continued to be supported by his teammates with the orange and black train still complete and visible at the head of the peloton approaching the five-kilometer to go mark.
A tricky finish, with several corners in the closing kilometer, added to stress associated with bunch sprint finishes but Koch was able to maintain his strong position as the finish line came into view before powering to a very close third place on the line behind Tom Devriendt (Wanty – Gobert Cycling Team).
After being protected by his teammates all day, Riccardo Zoidl also finished safely in the bunch alongside the rest of CCC Team to head into tomorrow’s first proper day in the mountains in a good position as he looks the contest the General Classification,
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“The team did an amazing job for me again today. They helped pull the group back together in the final kilometers and they kept me out of trouble all day. Josef brought me into the perfect position but, it is always a bit of a lottery in a bunch sprint. It was quite a difficult finish because we from a big road onto a narrow road with two tight corners but, thanks to the team, I was well-placed and I was able to take third so, I am quite happy.”
“It was actually quite a calm day for me because the team did a great job supporting me, especially in the final the last 40 to 50 kilometers. I want to say a big thanks to them. Yesterday I made a bit of mistake on the downhill as I too far back and in the wrong position but, today we took the final descent from the front.”
“Looking ahead to tomorrow, I am a little bit nervous not about my condition but about how the final 50 kilometers will play out tactically. It will be interesting but, if I have my teammates there, it should be okay for me.”
Int. Österreich-Rundfahrt-Tour of Austria
Stage 2: Zwettl > Wiener Neustadt (176.9km)
Top 3: 1. Tom Devriendt (Wanty – Gobert Cycling Team) 2. Jannick Steimle (Team Vorarlberg – Santic) 3. Jonas Koch (CCC Team)
CCC Team Top 3: 3. Jonas Koch 24. Łukasz Owsian 44. Víctor de la Parte