Koch was in the second group on the road as the race headed into the final kilometers of the day but, with the first two groups coming back together on the fast downhill run into the finish, it provided Koch with the perfect opportunity to try his luck in the sprint.
After finishing fourth on stage one and third on stage two, the German rider showed his consistency once again at the end of today’s 176.2-kilometer race, powering to third on the line, a result which saw him move into the red jersey as the new overall leader.
Earlier in the day a four-rider breakaway was allowed to extend its advantage out to over ten minutes but with CCC Team taking control behind, the gap began to fall and at the start of the first categorized climb, around three minutes had been shaved off the leaders’ advantage.
By the time the CCC Team-led peloton reached the summit of the next category two climb, with just under 50 kilometers to go, the leaders had been pulled back even further with their advantage sitting at around the two-minute mark and riders ready to attack off the front of the main bunch.
The last rider from the original breakaway was eventually caught by a reduced group of General Classification contenders, which included Riccardo Zoidl, Łukasz Owsian, and Víctor de la Parte, who was driving the pace at the front before those riders looking to target the General Classification at the end of the week started to attack.
Zoidl was able to follow the various bursts of acceleration on the 6.4-kilometer long category one climb, which had an average gradient of 8.5 percent and pitches of up to 11 percent in places.
However, in the end, despite one short and explosive uncategorized climb still to come, inside 20 kilometers to go, the race ultimately came back together to set the stage for the fast and furious finale.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“It feels great to win the leader’s jersey today. It is a very special feeling. This is the first leader’s jersey of my career. I’m really tired after today’s stage and I actually didn’t expect to make it to the line in the first group but I fought hard over the climbs to keep in contact and so I am really happy to be in this position now. It’s a totally new situation for me but it’s amazing and I am happy I could do it for the team here.”
“Everybody did an amazing job today. At the beginning of the stage, we took control early with Laurens and Will pulling hard when the breakaway’s advantage went out to ten minutes and we managed to cover all of the moves in front with Zoidl still with the GC favorites right up until the reduced bunch came back together. For me, this was a good situation as it meant I could have another go at the sprint and while, I didn’t take the victory today, the jersey is a nice alternative.”
“First of all, I want to say a big thanks to the team today. We started to control the race right from the beginning and even in the final, when the race came back together and it was a big fight to the finish, they were also there for me.”
“I had a little bit of a problem near the top of the last uncategorized climb today but I was able to come back to the other GC riders on the downhill. In the end, it was a big group that went to the finish so thinking about the big goal at the end of the week, I am happy with how today went for me. The next climbing stages are better suited to me with longer climbs rather than explosive ones like today so I am feeling good.”
“I also want to say congratulations to Jonas for taking the leader’s jersey. It’s great for him and for the team. It means we still have to do a lot of the work tomorrow but I am really happy for him.”
Int. Österreich-Rundfahrt-Tour of Austria
Stage 3: Kirchschlag > Frohnleiten (176.2km)
Top 3: 1. Giovanni Visconti (Neri Sotttoli – Selle Italia – KTM) 2. Colin Stüssi (Team Vorarlberg Santic) 3. Jonas Koch (CCC Team)
CCC Team Top 3: 3. Jonas Koch 43. Riccardo Zoidl 46. Łukasz Owsian