Germany's Bert Grabsch and Team Columbia dominated Saturday's 26.6-kilometre individual time trial in Podersdorf/ Neusiedler See. The reigning national ITT champion beat his teammate Edval Boasson Hagen (Norway), also holder in the national title in this discipline, by 43 seconds, with Michael Blaudzun of Team CSC in third place. "All was perfect today and the shape is getting better before the Olympic Games in Beijing, where I expect a lot in the time trial. It was a fantastic day for Team Columbia: a dual victory in Austria and the same thing at the Tour de France with Cavendish and Ciolek". Jason McCartney took fifth in the stage ahead of TT specialist Gustav Larsson from Sweden, while another U.S. contender, Craig Lewis, made it into the top 15 spots of the day.
On the GC side of the matter, Thomas Rohregger seems to be finally able to "make the impossible to come true" and clinch overall crown in the race, with just one (easy) stage remaining. Ruslan Pidgornyy and Vladimir Gusev had been the hottest candidates for the yellow jersey on some pre-race predictions, but Rohregger had worked a lot on his time trial abilities in the winter, carrying out countless tests in the wind tunnel in order to find the correct position on the bike, and such efforts paid off. "Right after the start I noticed no pressure, in contrast to last year. I was an underdog in the time trial and just wanted to do my best. But I showed to all naysayers that I'm capable of doing fine in time trials" the Austrian said after the stage.
In fact Rohregger not only fought off attacks from both Vladimir Gusev and Ruslan Pidgornyy, but with his fourth-place performance even put further time into them. Such that he currently leads the Astana-man from Russia by 40 seconds and Team LPR's Pidgornyy, down to spot number three on GC, by 01'05". RenÚ Haselbacher holds on to his lead in the points classification as much as the Sicilian Giampaolo Caruso just has to cross the line at Vienna at the end of Sunday's final (and ceremonial??) stage from Podersdorf into the nation's capital city in order to be crowned King of the Mountains.
Team Columbia Press Release: Team Columbia powered to the top two places in the Tour of Austria's crucial time trial on Saturday thanks to German Bert Grabsch and Norwegian Edvald Boassen Hagen. In the 26 kilometre time trial in Podersdorf, Grabsch finished 43 seconds ahead of his team- mate Boassen Hagen and 45 ahead of Dane Michael Blaudzun.
Time trialling success is not new for either Columbia rider - both Grabsch and Boassen Hagen are reigning national champions in the speciality. Grabsch also won a time trial in the Tour of Spain last year and Boassen Hagen the time trial in the Criterium International this March.
"It was my kind of course, flat, wide roads and not technical at all." Grabsch, who rode with a 56x11 gearing and caught three riders en route to victory, said on Saturday evening. The only problem was the heat - 33 degrees. Normally I have problems with that but I seemed to be able to handle that ok."
He said he was not surprised by his win - "after all, I'm national time trial champion and it was a good course for me. It was so short there were no tactics and no time references for me - just going 100 percent from start to finish. My time trial bike, a new one, was also perfect for the job." Grabsch added that it would be good preparation for the Olympic Games which he will be targeting in August. "I'm going to rest for 10 days after this, ride the Tour of Saxony which has a 35 kilometre time trial in it, then I'll be focussed on Beijing. It's hilly for sure, but my form is good, and last year in the World's at Stuttgart I got fourth, so I know I can do well on tough circuits as well as flatter ones".
Referring to Mark Cavendish victory and Gerald Ciolek's second place in the Tour de France stage to Toulouse, Grabsch said "It was a very special day for Columbia - it's not often a team wins in two races at the same time, even less frequent to get the top two placings in both!"
Stage 6 (Podersdorf ITT, 26.6 km): Top 20 Places
1. GRABSCH, Bert (Ger - TEAM COLUMBIA) - 30'30"64 (51.52 kph)
2. BOASSON HAGEN, Edvald (Nor - TEAM COLUMBIA) - at 43"10
3. BLAUDZUN, Michael (Den - TEAM CSC) - at 45.74
4. ROHREGGER, Thomas (Aut - ELK HAUS) - at 54"87
5. McCARTNEY, Jason (USA - TEAM CSC) - at 58"17
6. LARSSON, Gustav (Swe - TEAM CSC) - at 01'00"97
7. GUSEV, Vladimir (Rus - ASTANA) - at 01'01"86
8. RABON, Frantisek (Cze - TEAM COLUMBIA) - at 01'06"93
9. GRIVKO, Andriy (Ukr - TEAM MILRAM) - at 01'16"83
10. KNAVEN, Servais (Hol - TEAM COLUMBIA) - at 01'28"26
11. ROESEMS, Bert (Bel - SILENCE-LOTTO) - at 01'30"87
12. DUMA, Vladimir (Ukr - FLAMINIA-BOSSINI) - at 01'33"36
13. GRABOVSKYY, Dmytro (Ukr - QUICK STEP) - at 01'34"08
14. LEWIS, Craig (USA - TEAM COLUMBIA) - at 01'34"32
15. SEROV, Alexander (Rus - TINKOFF) - at 01'35"16
16. GESINK, Robert (Hol - RABOBANK) - at 01'36"62
17. BOCHMANN, Lasse (Den - TEAM CSC) - at 01'45"89
18. PIDGORNYY, Ruslan (Ukr - TEAM LPR BRAKES) - at 01'47"29
19. FREI, Thomas (Swi - ASTANA) - at 01'48"53
20. VAN GOOLEN, Jurgen (Bel - TEAM CSC) - at 01'51"02
* Complete stage results here (pdf file)
60th Tour of Austria - GC after Stage 6: Top 20 Places
1. ROHREGGER, Thomas (Aut - ELK HAUS-SIMPLON) - 24h11'35"
2. GUSEV, Vladimir (Rus - ASTANA) - at 40"
3. PIDGORNYY, Ruslan (Ukr - TEAM LPR BRAKES) - at 01'05"
4. SÍRENSEN, Chris Anker (Den - TEAM CSC) - at 02'02"
5. CARUSO, Giampaolo (Ita - FLAMINIA-BOSSINI) - at 02'47"
6. REBELLIN, Davide (Ita - GEROLSTEINER) - at 04'09"
7. BRAJKOVIC, Janez (Slo - ASTANA) - at 04'23"
8. PEDRAZA, Walter (Col - TINKOFF) - at 05'31"
9. GOLCER, Jure (Slo - TEAM LPR BRAKES) - at 05'42"
10. FREI, Thomas (Swi - ASTANA) - at 05'59"
11. BARRY, Michael (Can - TEAM COLUMBIA) - at 06'07"
12. TRAMPUSCH, Gerhard (Aut - ELK HAUS-SIMPLON) - at 06'14"
13. MOSER, Leonardo (Ita - DIQUIGIOVANNI-ANDRONI) - at 06'38"
14. PICHLER, Michael (Aut - RC ARBÍ) - at 07'11"
15. SESTILI, Luigi (Ita - FLAMINIA-BOSSINI) - at 07'30"
16. STALDER, Florian (Swi - TEAM VOLKSBANK) - at 07'32"
17. LLOYD, Matthew (Aus - SILENCE-LOTTO) - at 07'49"
18. SERRANO GONZALES, Ricardo (Spa - TINKOFF) - at 07'50"
19. GESINK, Robert (Hol - RABOBANK) - at 09'10"
20. SIMEONI, Filippo (Ita - FLAMINIA-BOSSINI) - at 09'13"
* Full GC after Stage 6 here (pdf file)
Points: 1. HASELBACHER, RenÚ (Aut - ASTANA) - 34 p.
(Full standings here - pdf file)
Mountains: 1. CARUSO, Giampaolo (Ita - FLAMINIA-BOSSINI) - 57 p.
* (Full standings here - pdf file)
Teams: 1. ASTANA - 72h42'51"
* (Full standings here - pdf file)
* 60th Tour of Austria - Prologue & Stage 1
* 60th Tour of Austria - Stage 2
* 60th Tour of Austria - Stage 3
* 60th Tour of Austria - Stage 4
* 60th Tour of Austria - Stage 5