Tour of the Alps: Stage 1 – Kufstein to Innsbruck/Hungerburg
Nathan Brown looked good, probably felt good, and was going good, pedaling away to about a ten second lead over the group on stage one of the Tour of the Alps, a race for men who like arms warmers and mountains, not cobbles or crosswinds on their afternoon ride.
The attack came about 25 km out. A burst of speed, a gap, and the start of a heroic bid not only to reach the two-man (doomed) break a minute or so up the road, but to maybe even end the losing streak (and bad luck) that had plagued the Argyle team for so long.
Well, maybe. As Brown powered away, you began to wonder what would scupper this latest bid to end the dry spell.
I mean, had the gruppo, looking awkwardly at each other, simply let Brown go, figuring that as a Cannondale rider, some sort of bad luck would strike, end this bid for glory, and save them all that effort spent chasing him down?
If they weren’t thinking that, it could have been that the TV moto-camera was.
You wondered if he was zooming in on Brown because he expected him to fall off at any moment. Or, given that Brown was doing a good job of remaining upright, that the close up on the pedals was in anticipation of the chain slipping, or on the wheels, expecting them to puncture.
Accident free, Brown reached Tirol Cycling’s Matthias Krizek soon enough, the third man of the breakaway, who having suffered a technical himself was mid-way through a slow descent back to the peloton. Brown rode past, still looking good.
Or so we thought.
Without the time-gap onscreen Brown was making progress. With the time gap on screen, the TV showed images of the bad luck Brown was about to encounter, or at least watch ride casually past.
Team Sky was on the front of the group, riding six astern, organized, and slowly pulling everyone back, including Brown, who they afforded a brief glance as they swept past, casually removing their jackets as they did so in readiness of the last 20 km, but which you can’t help thinking was a bit of a rub down.
Brown was done, the hopes of his team quashed for another day at least. Sky meanwhile delivered their man Geraint Thomas to the top of the climb, albeit in second place, behind Michele Scarponi, who ironically locked up Astana’s first win of 2017, and his own first win since 2013.
Lucky for some then.
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