Osterreich Rundfahrt

Stannard grabs first pro win

Breakaway bid pays off in style in Austria

By Jonathan Turner   Last updated: 8th July 2011

Ian Stannard claimed his first individual victory as a pro when winning stage five of the Tour of Austria (Osterreich Rundfahrt).

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The Chelmsford-born rider worked his way into a five-man break on the 157.2 kilometres route from St.Johann/Alpendorf to Schladming and the quintet were still clear of the field heading into the destination town.

With the race between them it was Stannard who proved strongest as he outsprinted his breakaway companions, with Latvian Gatis Smukulis (HTC-Highroad) in second and local favourite Stefan Denifl (Leopard Trek) third.

Grégory Rast (RadioShack) and Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing) completed the escape group, with the main bunch coming in 49 seconds behind, led home by Team Sky sprinter Chris Sutton.

The overall standings remain unchanged at the top, with Fredrik Kessiakoff (Astana) maintaining his advantage of 1:18 minutes over Mauro Santambrogio (BMC Racing). Team Sky's Morris Possoni is sixth.

Plan pays off

Soon after the finish a delighted Stannard talked us through his triumph, saying: "The plan was to get in the break as this stage looked to have the best chance of it staying away. I managed to get in the break and it was a pretty strong group of five so it all looked quite good.

"But they didn't really let us get too far ahead; I think our biggest time gap was four and a half minutes. It started to come down a little too so it was a bit unsure for a while but as we went over the last climb with 27k remaining we still had an advantage of 2:50 as well as a bit of a tailwind so it looked good again.

"Everyone committed and I just tried to play it pretty cool and won the sprint - so it was pretty easy really (laughs)!"

Stannard has been involved in winning team time trials but this was his first individual success as a pro on the road and he felt experience gained on the track was a contributory factor, adding: "I think maybe that little bit of knowledge you get from the track probably helped, just laying off them a little bit at the end and using it to my advantage.

"It's my first proper pro victory so it's pretty special. We all feel a bit left out here with the Tour de France going on so thought we'd better do something and let everyone know we're in Austria (laughs again)!

"There are only six of us here but we are all working really well together and there's a great atmosphere. CJ got second on the first day and Morris has been up there in the mountain stages so it's all good."

Full of praise

Sports Director Marcus Ljungqvist underlined just how pleased the whole team were with the victory when he said: "We're all so happy for Ian. He's been going really well and this is a well deserved victory for him, it really is.

"It was the perfect combination for the team, having Ian in the break and CJ there if it came down to a field sprint. The breakaway riders played it so, so well. They worked together and were very smart and we're all delighted that Ian was able to win the sprint, as he said, his track experience definitely helped.

"As I understand it CJ won the bunch sprint which shows he's recovered well from his stomach bug and I'm sure tomorrow's stage will probably be a bunch sprint so we've got a great card to play there again."

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