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Tour of the Alps stage 1 - Live coverage

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Hello there and welcome to the Cyclingnews live race centre for the start of the Tour of the Alps. We're still in the middle of the Ardennes Classics, but we can now see the Giro d'Italia on the horizon, and this is key build-up race on the road to that start line in Turin on May 8. Coming up, five days of exciting racing in the mountainous Tirol region of northern Italy and western Austria. 

Today we start with what's probably the easiest of the five stages, though that's not to say it's easy. The riders will go over the Brenner Pass as they cross from Italy into Austria, and they'll reach Innsbruck for two laps of a finishing circuit that takes in the short Axam climb. 

The riders are on the move, rolling out of Brixen for the neutralised start. The stage will be underway in a few minutes' time.

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We're off

The flag is waved and the Tour of the Alps is underway. A tough start, climbing pretty much from kilometre-zero.

A fast and attacking start on this early uncategorised climb and nothing is going clear just yet. 

Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up Nation) is on the move

De Marchi has opened a gap on the climb. Two riders are chasing in between.

Over the top of the climb and onto a downhill section. Marton Dina (Eolo-Kometa) and Felix Engelhardt (Tirol-KTM) are the riders just behind De Marchi.

126km to go

Dina and Engelhardt link up with De Marchi to form a three-man breakaway. They have 45 seconds over the peloton, who have not relented just yet.

But now the peloton does look to be happy to let this be the breakaway of the day. The gap goes out to 90 seconds.

The gap sails out to five minutes as we take on the long drag towards the Brenner Pass. 

As things settle down, why not have a read of our big race preview, for the lowdown on the route and contenders.

Tour of the Alps - Preview

The gap has stabilised at five minutes. We have an intermediate sprint coming up soon at the km40 mark, after which we'll start the Brenner Pass, which is long at 13km but not too difficult, especially not the second half of the climb.

100km to go

Engelhardt takes the intermediate sprint ahead of Dina, with De Marchi third.

The gap is still five minutes as the three-man break takes on the lower slopes of the Brenner Pass.

Who's going to win today's stage? 

Given the hilly nature of this race as a whole, sprinters are thin on the ground. Many riders will be capable of dealing with today's hills but who has a fast enough finish, and which teams will work to set up a reduced group sprint? The Axams climbs should provide plenty of hope to late attackers.  

Here's the full start list - take a look and pick a winner.

Astana lead the peloton onto the upper slopes of the climb. They have Fabio Felline who can sprint from a small group or Luis León Sánchez who can always be relied upon to go on the attack.

It's snowing at the top of the Brenner Pass. It's not a hard climb but it does take them up to 1400m. 

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85km to go

Over the top of the climb and onto the descent. The gap still stands at a stable five minutes.

A first shot of our breakaway trio: De Marchi, Dina, and Engelhardt.

INNSBRUCK AUSTRIA APRIL 19 Alessandro De Marchi of Italy and Team Israel StartUp Nation Marton Dina of Hungary and EoloKometa Cycling Team Felix Engelhardt of Germany and Tirol KTM Cycling Team during the 44th Tour of the Alps 2021 Stage 1 a 1406km stage from Brixen to Innsbruck Breakaway TourofTheAlps TouroftheAlps on April 19 2021 in Innsbruck Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

De Marchi in the break allows me to plug Stephen Farrand's excellent interview with 'il rosso di Buja' from last year. The Italian explains his racing philosophy and his need to break away.

"Being the hare, on the run from the peloton, is a way to fight off the boredom of obviousness. It's about not giving up. It's a feeling of precariousness that forces you to dig deep so you don’t give up. Going on the attack is a way of loving cycling. There's far more chance of losing than there is of winning but when you pull it off and cross the finish line victorious, there's nothing like it."  

De Marchi: Feeling the wind on your face is never to be taken for granted

De Marchi was first to the top of the Brenner Pass, so will take the mountains jersey tomorrow. Dina was second and Engelhardt third.

The pace has increased considerably in the peloton

75km to go

BikeExchange and Bahrain have upped the tempo on the long downhill section. The gap to the three leaders falls to 3 minutes.

70km to go

At the half-way mark, the break's lead falls to two minutes.

Our top story today concerns Mark Cavendish, whose win on the final stage of the Tour of Turkey yesterday was the 150th of his career. Want a stack of photos to look back on those win?

Mark Cavendish and his 150 wins - Mega Gallery

The gap has stabilised at two minutes as the leaders hit the steeper section of this downhill that will lead them into Innsbruck and onto the finishing circuit.

Astana are back on the front as the gap falls to 1:45. 

50km to go

Into the final 50 and Astana's chasing on the flatter terrain brings the gap down to a square minute. 

De Marchi, Engelhardt, and Dina find some more ground again, moving back out to 1:30.

44km to go

We're onto the finishing circuit now and heading towards the first of two ascents of the Axams climb. It's 4km at around 6 per cent. If you're a complete cycling nerd you will remember the climb from the time trial at the 2018 Worlds. 

The Brenner descent earlier on

Alps

(Image credit: Getty Images)

40km to go

The leaders hit the Axams climb for the first time. 

Engelhardt is dropped as soon as they hit it. 

Dina continues to hold De Marchi's wheel. They have 1:15 over the bunch, which is still led by Astana.

De Marchi rips away from Dina at the top of the climb

36.5km to go

That wasn't just a move for the KOM points - De Marchi has decided to go it alone now.

De Marchi reaches the top of the climb now. He leads the peloton by 1:35. 

A brief descent follows, then a short plateau, then a longer faster downhill back into town then towards the bottom of the climb again.

De Marchi is holding his advantage here as he zips down this wide sweeping main descent.

Engelhardt is finally caught by the peloton. Dina is still out there in between.

25km to go

Into the final 25km and De Marchi is mashing his way along the flat approach to the second and final ascent of Axams. He still has 1:20 over the bunch.

We catch a first real glimpse of Groupama-FDJ. They're here with Thibaut Pinot, for whom this is more of a fitness test than a tune-up ahead of the Giro. He's still not over that back injury he sustained on the opening day of last year's Tour, and has said that he'll quickly get answers this week. If he doesn't feel 100 per cent, he won't go to the Giro. 

Full story here.

22km to go

Onto the climb again. De Marchi's lead has been cut back to 50 seconds

Attack from the peloton. It's Karel Vacek (Qhubeka Assos)

Hugh Carthy accelerates now and rips past Vacek.

Carthy draws a few riders out but there's a lot of looking around.

It settles down and Vacek goes again. An Eolo rider now takes it up.

A few riders accelerating here but they're just stretching out the bunch rather than opening gaps.

De Marchi's lead is being slashed, though.

Sergio Martin (Caja Rural) attacks now and opens daylight.

No response behind and Martin makes his way across to De Marchi.

Attila Valter springs and makes it three out front, with a slim lead over the bunch.

Valter attacks now. De Marchi is onto it but Martin is dropped.

An Ineos rider accelerates now. The bunch is almost at hand.

18.2km to go

Felix Grossschartner accelerates now and leads the race over the top of the Axams climb.

The bunch is slightly reduced and very much strung out as they head downhill. 

Nicolas Roche attacks but it's short-lived as the road flattens out briefly. 

Hermann Pernsteiner (Bahrain) accelerates now.

And now Sánchez goes

That one comes to nothing, too

AG2R are the next to throw a rider on the attack. They have a sprinter here in Andrea Vendrame.

15km to go

Pello Bilbao joins the accelerations. No gaps appearing just yet.

Bilbao leads onto the main descent and now does success in dragging a five-man group clear.

Santiago Umba, Androni's latest Colombian teenager, is in this move. 

So is Mattias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) and Daniel Savini (Bardiani)

Arkea-Samsic take it up in the bunch but there's a gap open to the four leaders.

The pace ebbs in the bunch and Elo send a rider on the move.

10km to go

Into the final 10, and these four riders - Bilbao, Umba, Savini, Skjelmose - have eight seconds in hand.

We're onto the flat again, but we've got one nasty kicker in the final 5km.

There's no concerted chase here. The front four are working well together and take the gap out to 12 seconds.

Ineos take it up now. Sanchez is content to sit second wheel. Astana controlled the race all day but appear happy to sit back here.

AG2R have Vendrame but aren't anywhere near the front of the peloton.

Ineos have put Puccio on the front but the gap goes out to 19 seconds.

Bilbao is definitely a danger man from a GC perspective. You don't want to give him much of a head start in this race.

7.5km to go

And now AG2R do start to contribute to the chase

6.5km to go

Ineos, AG2R and Caja Rural all look interested in chasing now, and this looks much more organised. The gap comes down to 15 seconds.

The front four continue to collaborate but their lead continues to fall. 11 seconds now 

5km to go

Puccio still doing the biggest turns on the front of the bunch. 9 seconds.

The leaders hit the late little climb

Bilbao accelerates but the bunch is in sight behind.

Over the top and the quartet still have a few seconds in hand. They continue to go for it. 

Ineos attack!

It's Moscon, and it's a big one. He rips past that quartet.

That break is caught on these narrow streets but Moscon is away now.

Moscon is still on narrow streets and that really suits a lone attacker. He looks to have picked a great moment there. Who's going to chase this down?

2.5km to go

Moscon is nipping downhill and not losing any time here. He emerges onto the flat with a lead of six seconds.

Accelerations behind but no organised chase at this point.

A false flat drag for Moscon as he enters the final 2km. He only has a few seconds, though.

The Italian is starting to fade now.

Moscon swings right onto a bridge. He needs hesitation behind.

An attack comes now from an Uno-X rider. It's Idar Andersen.

Andersen is across! Final km!

The rest of the bunch has relented. We're in for a two-up sprint here!

Andersen vs Moscon. Here we go!

The bunch is at hand but Moscon starts sprinting

Moscon wins it!

Andersen hangs on for second as the bunch swamp them just beyond the line.

Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers) wins stage 1 of the Tour of the Alps

Moscon comfortably outsprinted Andersen, whose bridge across turned about to be the perfect gift for the Italian. He offered a turn and Moscon put him on the front heading into the final 200m, whereupon he breezed clear. The bunch was right on their heels at the line but it turned out to be a crafty and well-executed move from Moscon, who claims his first win since 2018.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 3:29:24
2Idar Andersen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
3Alexandr Riabushenko (Min) UAE Team Emirates
4Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
5Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange
6Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
7Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
8Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
9Natnael Tesfazion (Eri) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
10Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Qhubeka Assos

General classification after stage 1
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers 3:29:14
2Idar Andersen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 0:00:04
3Alexandr Riabushenko (Min) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:06
4Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech 0:00:10
5Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Team BikeExchange
6Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
7Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
8Ruben Guerreiro (Por) EF Education-Nippo
9Natnael Tesfazion (Eri) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
10Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Qhubeka Assos

Gianni Moscon wins stage 1 of the Tour of the Alps

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let's hear from the winner

"There’s no better way to get back racing after two months away due to an injury. I’ve lived in Innsbruck for three years and so I was really motivated to try to win at ‘home’. It gave me that bit extra that made the difference. 

"Knowing the roads was an advantage, especially psychologically; I knew what was coming and knew how to judge my effort. Of course you need the legs too and it worked out perfectly. "

Not only was this a home win but a birthday win, and Moscon will be in the green leader's jersey as he turns 27 tomorrow. He hadn't race since crashing out of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne with a broken scaphoid at the end of February. 

As for that leader's jersey, Ineos are here with Pavel Sivakov for the overall title.

"The battle for the GC will be hard because some of the best climbers in the world are here as they get ready for the Giro d’Italia," Moscon said. "We’ll try to defend the lead but I know I might struggle. I just want to enjoy doing the second stage in the leader’s jersey."

Moscon

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Full results are in and Chris Froome finished five minutes down today. He came here looking for progress on his journey back to full strength but it doesn't appear to be forthcoming.

You can peruse those full results, along with plenty of photos, in our report page.

Tour of the Alps: Gianni Moscon wins stage 1

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