Muhlberger Wins Stage 4 of Tour of the Alps
Thursday’s stage 4 of the 2023 Tour of the Alps was the hardest stage of this year’s race with its four out of five stars rating. The stage took place in the Trentino region on a 152.9-kilometer mountainous route from Rovereto to Predazzo. The finish town is known as the Geological Garden of the Alps due to its location on the magma chamber of a 238-million-year-old Triassic volcano.
The stage featured a category 1 climb to the Passo Sommo shortly after the start, the Lago Santa Colomba and Palu di Giovo mid-stage, and the category 2 Passo Pramadiccio shortly before the finish, followed by a steep descent to the finish line in Predazzo. The finish should favor a small group.
The hostilities started early as many teams were eager to show their worth following disappointments in the first three stages. The Movistar team was very active at the front and managed to place four of its riders in the breakaway group while EF Education-EasyPost sent a duo to join the front group.
A breakaway group of fourteen men was eventually established. The group featured Simon Carr and Stefan de Bod (EF Education-EasyPost); Gregor Mühlberger, Antonio Pedrero, Oscar Rodriguez, Sergio Samitier (Movistar Team); Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe), Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R-Citroen), Marco Frigo (Israel-PremierTech); Giulio Pellizzari and Henok Mulubrhan (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizane); Torstein Træen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), and Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team’s Damien Howson and Mark Donovan.
The group had a 40 second lead at the top of the category 1 Passo Sommo climb and gradually increased its advantage to 04:30 minutes with 50 kilometers left of the stage.
With 40 kilometers left of the stage Ineos-Grenadiers led the main peloton in support of their race leader Tao Geoghegan Hart. At this point the front group had an advantage of 04:47 minutes.
The rolling oranges (Euskaltel-Euskadi) took to the front of the peloton to increase its pace in their orange outfits and with 30 kilometers left the advantage of the breakaway group had been reduced to four minutes.
On the final climb of the day – the category 2 Passo Pramadiccio – the front group was split into atoms. Mühlberger attacked solo for his Movistar team, while a trio featuring Konrad, Frigo and Pellizzari was formed behind him. Pellizzari then joined Mühlberger. Later, Træen joined the front duo, while Konrad and Frigo were chasing behind.
Meanwhile, further back Mikel Bizkarra launched a solo attack from the main peloton for his Euskaltel-Euskadi team. Later, he was joined by Matthew Riccotello (Israel-PremierTech) while Ineos-Grenadiers set a fast pace at the front of the main peloton group.
With eighteen kilometers left to ride, Pellizzari was in front in solo fashion, while Træen and Mühlberger were lurking eighteen seconds behind him. Later, the three riders merged into a trio, and they were still together 3.6 kilometers left to race. Group two was 48 seconds behind and the main peloton, led by Ineos-Grenadiers, had a deficit of 03:32 minutes.
In the final kilometer the trio remained together until three hundred meters from the finish. Mühlberger then attacked solo to take the stage victory in Tour of the Alps. The stage victory was well-deserved for Mühlberger, who has been through a period of hardship due to him suffering from meningitis in 2021. The victory documents his return to form and rebirth as a professional cyclist to be counted with.
Træen finished second and Pellizzari proudly took the final spot on the podium at the age of nineteen.
In the general classification Geoghegan Hart remains race leader, followed by Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) 22 seconds behind, while Jack Haig completes the podium for Bahrain-Victorious. Tomorrow’s stage 5 is the final stage of this year’s Tour of the Alps.