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Tour of the Alps: Dennis wins shortened stage, Pinot leader

ROME (AFP) — Australian Rohan Dennis (BMC) won the second stage of the Tour of the Alps, which was shortened by 40 kilometers due to heavy snowfall Tuesday morning in Innsbruck, Austria.

While Dennis was staking his claim on stage 2, Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) lifted the fuchsia leaders jersey off stage 1 winner Michele Scarponi (Astana) in Innervillgraten. Dennis won a sprint finish over Pinot and Italian Davide Ballerini and a host of other riders at the end of the ascent to the Tyrol.

“Yesterday I didn’t ride the final climb perfectly, tactical-wise,” admitted Dennis. “I lost time and it’s not good when you come with overall ambitions.

“Today, I managed to bounce back from that disappointment, and also regain some confidence and morale,” he added. “It was a chilly, but good day”.

This final climb was fatal to the escapees of the day, Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani), Damiano Caruso (BMC) and last year’s race winner Mikel Landa (Sky), who were all caught in the final kilometre.

“I have come here with that sort of my mentality: come in day by day and see how I feel,” said Dennis. “If I can, I can. If I can’t, tru to minimize the loss, like I did yesterday. I think it’s better for me to look at it kilometer by kilometer, and try to get the best possible result at that point of the race, instead of thinking too far ahead, to care about the condition of my legs, and try to take the opportunities when they come.”

The stage, 140.4 km long, was part of Vipiteno, instead of Innsbruck, because of the snow that covered the top of the first pass on the program.

“It was a surprise for me to take the leader’s jersey, I didn’t expect it,” said Pinot. “It was a fast stage with cold weather that it’s something I don’t dislike, it was good for me”.

“My focus was to be in the best position at the end of the race, I didn’t expect to be in the leader’s jersey.”

Second in the Tirreno-Adriatico last month, Dennis is 11 seconds off the new leader, Pinot. Thanks to the six seconds bonus earned on arrival, the Franc-Comtou was delighted to don the leaders jersey this season after finishing on the podium of the Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour Of Andalusia.

“I have always loved racing in Italy, I also got some good results here,” recalled Pinot. “Since this will be my first Giro, it seemed logical to me to be here, taking in races suited for my characteristics: Sanremo, Tirreno-Adriatico, and of course Tour of the Alps, a race I had always wanted to take part in.”

Pinot will have a lot to do to defend Wednesday, between Villabassa-Niederdorf And Funes-Villnöss (135.6 km), with two climbs on the program. The course of the stage, originally 143.1 km long, has been modified to avoid the main pass on the program – the snow-covered Passo delle Erbe.

“I think my shape is improving day by day, taking into account I had not raced since Tirreno-Adriatico, I’m confident I’ll find a better shape through the week at Tour of the Alps,” explained Pinot. “I’m sure tomorrow will be a good stage, the hardest one, and I hope to defend the jersey. For sure the last 3 days are the toughest ones, we will try to defend the lead.”