Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) won stage 3 of the Tour of the Alps in Villabassa after he attacked from the break of the day with a kilometre remaining.
The German rider was one of the last to join the break after 63km of aggressive, fast racing but then used his race craft when the attacks came one after another in the final 10km into the headwind in the Val Pusteria that leads from Italy into Austria.
He followed several moves and then attacked himself late on and held off a fierce pursuit from Andrey Amador (Ineos Grenadiers) to claim the spoils.
Jonathan Lastra (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) finished third ahead of Natnael Tesfazion (Drone Hopper-Androni), Will Barta (Movistar) and the aggressive James Piccoli (Israel-Premier Tech), who made several attempts to forge clear of the break.
Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) retained the overall lead after he came home with the overall contenders just under a minute down on the escapees.
Kämna is one of the most talented young German riders of his generation but took time out from the sport for a second time in the summer of 2021 season.
He won a stage at the 2020 Tour de France and Criterium du Dauphine but opted not to return to the Tour de France in 2021. However he has now won twice in 2022, after also taking a stage at the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol in February.
“I knew it was a day for a break and so I went for it, things worked out well, I could take the win, so it’s good,” Kämna said.
“I did a couple of attacks and even went solo after 20km but that was a stupid idea because riders were jumping all the time. But I knew I should keep trying and so I went all in to close the gap and get in the move.
Kämna then used his race craft and talent to emerge as the stage winner.
“I had Amador on my list of riders to watch but to be honest, we were all at our limit, me too,” Kämna admitted.
“So every attack could have been the last attack. That’s why I followed every move.”
Bilbao had a quieter day in the peloton and again showed his form and why he is the race leader.
He impressed when he responded to an attack from Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) on the day’s main difficulty, the Passo Furcia and again had sorng support from his Bahrain Victorious team and experienced teammate Mikel Landa.
Bilbao remains six seconds clear of Romain Bardet (Team DSM) ahead of Thursday’s summit finish on the Grossglockner and then Friday’s final stage on a short but hilly loop around Lienz in Austria. Attila Valter (Groupama-FDJ) third overall at 12 seconds, with 20 riders within a minute.
“We didn’t expect to take the jersey, we were looking for stage wins but it happened and so we’re happy to defend it,” Bilbao explained, still wearing the bright green leader’s jersey in the post-race press conference.
“There are only two days left now, so we’ve got to keep defending it. Thursday’s stage is hard but the finish on the Grossglockner is not that hard and I hope to have the team around me to control attacks. Maybe the last stage is the hardest. It is short and with steep climbs. It’s going to be crazy.”
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