Stage 4: Crikvenica - Učka
Trek-Segafredo's Riccardo Zoidl put his climbing prowess on display on stage 4 of the Tour of Croatia, taking out the win on the mountain top finish with an attack from just over a kilometer from the summit.
The Austrian may have won the stage, but it was Synergy Baku who claimed the race lead with Croatian Matija Kvasina, who was second on the stage at 28 seconds. Victor de la Parte (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) was third.
Kvasina leads the race by 19 seconds over Zoidl, with Radoslav Rogina (Adria Mobil) in third ahead of the team time trial.
“On paper Baku is just a small team, but we have proven that with teamwork we can achieve great results," Kvasina said. "It is a small team with a huge heart and soul. Nothing would have been possible today without this amazing team.
“Special thanks to Kirill, who gave his best for me the whole day and in crucial moments. I am forever thankful and hope that I can return the favor to the whole team. It is nice to lead my homeland race and we will fight for it until the end.”
For Zoidl, it was his first win in three years - his last came in the 2013 Croatia - Slovenia race. "This victory means a lot to me because this year I had a lot of troubles in the beginning of the season," Zoidl said. "Just to continue this week with a victory - we have already two - it is incredible. Thanks to the team, they rode the last 50k amazingly. I'm really happy."
The final climb was 22km long, beginning gradually but having several steep sections. Pacing was key to the stage win, he said.
"I knew that it was a really long climb and you had to pace it, and wait and wait. My director said to wait until the last moment. With 5km to go I tried to split it a little bit and then there were three guys. I felt good, so I decided to go a little bit early with 2k to go, and it worked out. It's an amazing day for me."
Zoidl might have been in the race lead but for a 51 second loss on stage 2 when he was caught behind a crash, but now the Trek-Segafredo team will have to make up the 19 second gap to Kvasina in tomrorrow's team time trial.
"It was a pity I lost 50 seconds on the second stage with the crash. But we're really motivated now after this third victory and we'll go full gas tomorrow."
How it unfolded
It didn't take long for the race leader Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and fellow sprinters like Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) to be jettisoned from the peloton on the lumpy start to the 122.1km stage to the summit at Vojak - a day with 3,000m of accumulated climbing.
Eight riders made the breakaway of the day: Artem Ovechkin (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Scott Davies (Team WIGGINS), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani CSF), Daniel Turek (Cycling Academy), Brec