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Tour of the Alps: Pinot surges to stage 5 win as Bardet grabs overall title

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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ celebrates at finish line as stage winner during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) wins stage 5 in Lienz (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ attacks in the breakaway during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) attacks with under 12km to go (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Romain Bardet of France and Team DSM reacts at finish line as race winner during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Romain Bardet (Team DSM) ends his day more than 8 minutes behind stage winner Thibaut Pinto, but with significant time to secure the GC win (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Pello Bilbao Lpez De Armentia of Spain and Team Bahrain Victorious Green Leader Jersey disappointed at finish line after the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) reached the finish line of stage 5 but lost time to Romain Bardet to drop from overall lead to fourth on GC (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Romain Bardet of France and Team DSM final overall race winner celebrates after the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Romain Bardet (Team DSM) celebrates overall victory at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio of Colombia and Team EF Education Easypost competes during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Esteban Chaves (EF Education-EasyPost) during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ competes in the breakaway during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in the breakaway during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 LR Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ and David De La Cruz Melgarejo of Spain and Team Astana Qazaqstan compete in the breakaway during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Thibaut Pinot and David De La Cruz during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Pello Bilbao Lpez De Armentia of Spain and Team Bahrain Victorious Green Leader Jersey with teammates lead the peloton passing through a forest landscape with rainy and foggy conditions during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

The peloton during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Johan Esteban Chaves Rubio of Colombia and Team EF Education Easypost competes in rainy and foggy conditions during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Esteban Chaves during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Pello Bilbao Lpez De Armentia of Spain and Team Bahrain Victorious Green Leader Jersey with teammates lead the peloton passing through a mountain landscape at Assling 1126m during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

The peloton during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Domen Novak of Slovenia and Edoardo Zambanini of Italy and Team Bahrain Victorious lead the peloton during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Bahrain Victorious lead the peloton during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 LR Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ and David De La Cruz Melgarejo of Spain and Team Astana Qazaqstan compete in the breakaway during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Thibaut Pinot and David De La Cruz during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 LR David De La Cruz Melgarejo of Spain and Team Astana Qazaqstan and Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ compete in the breakaway with rainy and foggy conditions during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Thibaut Pinot and David De La Cruz during stage 5 at Tour of the Alps (Image credit: Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Pello Bilbao Lpez De Armentia of Spain and Team Bahrain Victorious Green Leader Jersey competes in rainy and foggy conditions during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) has green leader's jersey covered with rain cape during stage 5 (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Geoffrey Bouchard of France and AG2R Citroen Team Blue Mountain Jersey competes in rainy and foggy conditions during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

KOM leader Geoffrey Bouchard of AG2R Citroën in peloton (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 A general view of the Peloton passing through Lavant Village 664m during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Wet conditions all day in Austria for stage 5's 114.5km race to Lienz (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Miguel ngel Lpez Moreno of Colombia and Team Astana Qazaqstan Red Intermediate Sprint Jersey competes in heavy rain during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Intermediate sprint leader Miguel Ángel López Moreno of Astana Qazaqstan (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 LR Miguel ngel Lpez Moreno of Colombia and Team Astana Qazaqstan Red Intermediate Sprint Jersey Geoffrey Bouchard of France and AG2R Citroen Team Blue Mountain Jersey Thymen Arensman of Netherlands and Team DSM White Best Young Rider Jersey and Pello Bilbao Lpez De Armentia of Spain and Team Bahrain Victorious Green Leader Jersey prior to the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Riders at start in Lienz on Friday for 114.5km on stage 5 (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Thibaut Pinot of France and Team Groupama FDJ celebrates at podium with champagne as stage winner during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) celebrates stage 5 victory (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)
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LIENZ AUSTRIA APRIL 22 Romain Bardet of France and Team DSM celebrates at podium with race trophy as Green Leader Jersey and final overall winner during the 45th Tour of the Alps 2022 Stage 5 a 1145km stage from Lienz to Lienz TouroftheAlps on April 22 2022 in Lienz Austria Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Trophy celebration for Romain Bardet after stage 5 as GC winner (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) took his first victory in almost three years when he outsprinted David de la Cruz (Astana Qazaqstan) on the uphill finale in Lienz on the final stage of the Tour of the Alps.

It was a double celebration for French cycling as Romain Bardet (DSM) distanced Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) on the late climb of Stronach to claim final overall victory.

On a day of driving rain in Austria, there were two races in one, as Pinot and De la Cruz emerged as the strongmen from the day’s early break, while Bardet managed to rid himself of Bilbao in the finale to overhaul his two-second overnight deficit in the overall standings.

Bilbao’s Bahrain Victorious squad had been content to grant the early break considerable leeway, reasoning that they would hoover up the time bonuses, but in the end, the race was decided on sheer strength.

Bilbao was placed in difficulty when Richie Porte (Ineos) set a blistering pace on the lower slopes of short and steep climb of Stronach, and he was distanced irretrievably when Bardet took up the reins midway up the climb.

Bardet had teammate Thymen Arensman and former colleague Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ) for company as he crested the summit with a lead of 15 seconds over Bilbao. That trio combined smoothly on the final 8km to extend that advantage and share the top three places in the overall standings among them.

Bardet underscored his pre-Giro d’Italia for with overall victory, 14 seconds clear of Storer and 16 ahead of Arensman, while Bilbao had to settle for fourth overall at 37 seconds.

“It was super hard today, and the last climb was also the hardest of the race,” said Bardet. “I’m really happy to be able to win this one. I think we showed that we are a pretty strong team and we enjoy racing together.”

It was the first time Bardet had won the general classification of a race since he won the Tour de l’Ain nine years ago, but his relief was perhaps nothing compared to that felt by his compatriot Pinot, who hadn’t won since his victory atop the Col du Tourmalet on the 2019 Tour de France, with injury the keynote to his career ever since.

Ten minutes or so before Bardet began to take command of the Tour of the Alps, Pinot had distanced De la Cruz on the climb of Stronach, but the Spaniard fought his way back up to him on the descent.

It looked at that point as though Pinot might endure heartbreak at the hands of an Astana rider for the second successive day, but he showed considerable resolve to outkick De la Cruz in the final 200 metres.

“It’s a big relief for me to win. The Tour of the Alps is my favourite race and winning here is great for me,” said Pinot. “I had just one thought in my head today: to win. I knew that the break had a chance of going all the way to the finish, and it was tough course, very cold, conditions I liked.”

How it unfolded

The hilly final stage of the Tour of Alps started and finished in Lienz, where Michele Bartoli won the 1994 Giro d’Italia, and the 115km distance lent itself to attacking racing. At the start, race leader Pello Bilbao outlined that his Bahrain Victorious team was content to allow an early break go the distance, reasoning that his race would be based on trying to follow Bardet. “We will wait and see how DSM react,” he said.

Once the early break of fifteen riders went clear after 25km, that statis in the main field allowed them to establish a hefty advantage. At one point in the finale, Pinot, who began the day over 13 minutes off Bilbao, was suddenly back in contention for overall victory.

The Frenchman was joined in that initial move by David De La Cruz (Astana Qazaqstan), Andrey Amador (Ineos Grenadiers), Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), James Piccoli (Israel-Premier Tech), Abner Gonzalez (Movistar), Marco Brenner (Team DSM), Jonathan Cañaveral, Luca Covili (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Jefferson Cepeda (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA), Edoardo Zardini (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli), Davide Bais (Eolo-Kometa), Igor Arrieta (Equipo Kern Pharma), Mikel Iturria (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Torstein Traaen (Uno-X), though it soon split on the first ascent of the Bannberg.

Pinot, De la Cruz, Kämna, Arrieta and Traaen went clear there, and they were joined over the other side by Amador. Come the short but steep Oberassling, however, Pinot and De la Cruz’s quality began to tell, and they pressed clear with 66k remaining.

They collaborated well on the second time up the Bannberg, though there was a scare for Pinot when he was distanced by his breakaway companion on the descent. He bridged back on, but he realised that he would need to drop the Spaniard on the final ascent of the Stronach rather than risk a similar setback on the descent.

At the base of the final Stronach, Pinot endured a further anxious moment when his derailleur appeared to jam, but he put the issue to rights and was able to parry De la Cruz’s initial attack before launching one of his own as the gradient stiffened to double digits.

At the summit with 7km to go, Pinot had 15 seconds in hand, but when De la Cruz inched back up to him with 4km remaining, it looked as though he would again be denied by an Astana rider. Instead, Pinot held his nerve when De la Cruz accelerated with 200m to go, coming around him to win comfortably. 

“I had quite a few little things go wrong during the stage too, so it was a special win,” said Pinot.

The GC battle, meanwhile, was essentially decided within the three wickedly steep kilometres of Stronach. Richie Porte’s impressive early onslaught splintered the group of contenders and put Bilbao in difficulty, but it also distanced Pavel Sivakov.

When Porte hesitated about continuing his effort, Bardet took over, climbing out the saddle and bringing Arensman and Storer with him. They crested the summit with 15 seconds or so in hand on Bilbao, and their smooth collaboration on the run-in ensured that Bardet would carry off the green jersey of race winner.

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.

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