Tour of Austria: Graeme Brown takes final day in Vienna, Ricco the overall
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tour of Austria: Graeme Brown takes final day in Vienna, Ricco the overall

by Jered Gruber at 6:31 PM EST   comments
Categories: Race Reports and Results
 
Battered Riccardo Ricco finishes race after breaking nose and receiving 12 stitches to his knee following crash in penultimate day time trial

The final stage of the 2010 Tour of Austria finished in a bunch gallop after a 123 kilometer march from Podersdorf to the Austrian capital of Vienna. Rabobank's Graeme Brown managed to finally relieve himself of the pesky monkey on his back to take his first victory of 2010. Brown prevailed over Milram's Robert Foerster and HTC-Columbia's Andre Greipel. Meanwhile, Riccardo Ricco finished safely in the bunch to take the overall victory.

Following a dramatic crash in the penultimate day time trial at the Tour of Austria, race leader Riccardo Ricco was not even sure if he'd be able to start the final stage.  The battered rider managed to make it to the Stage 8 start in Podersdorf in the morning and completed the stage safely in the field while sporting a black eye and badly bruised face. His battling effort earned him his first stage race victory since returning from his doping suspension as a result of his use of CERA-EPO at the 2008 Tour de France.

The flat stage included no surprises, so the general classification remained the same, giving the 26-year-old Riccardo Ricco the overall win over CarmioOro teammates Sergio Pardilla and Emmanuele Sella. Ricco's Tour of Austria was a show in climbing dominance. His overall victory goes nice with his two stage wins, which he took on two of the most legendary climbs in Austria: Kitzbueheler Horn and Grossglockner.

Ricco's two stage victories gave him a commanding lead in the overall standings heading into the Stage 7's test against the clock, but when he collided with a parked motorbike, the previously routine time trial took on a new visage. The collision broke Ricco's nose and doled out a nasty gash to his knee. The Italian climber managed to get back on his bike and get to the line in plenty enough time, but even after he finished, it wasn't clear whether his injuries would allow for his start on the final day into Vienna.

Luckily, Ricco was able to endure his injuries to become the third Italian to win the Tour of Austria and first in 11 years after Daniele Nardello in 1997 and Maurizio Vandelli in 1999.

After the stage, the former Giro d'Italia runner-up commented: "As I was lying there on the street yesterday, I thought, everything is gone now. Later, in the hospital, I received twelve stitches to my knee. It was difficult today, because of my injuries from yesterday. In the end though, it was a great race for me, my first big stage race victory. Along with that, I also took wins in the two most important stages."

An early break of four dominated the early proceedings. An Austrian quartet led the way all the way to Vienna. The foursome of Matthias Braendle (Footon-Servetto), his brother Dominik Braendle (Team Tyrol), Stefan Kirchmair (Tyrol), and Riccardo Zoidl (Arbo Gourmetfein Wels) did not have a chance of making it to the finish though - a bunch sprint was the order of the day.

Andre Greipel's HTC-Columbia team didn't get the leadout right, according to the winningest rider in the world: "We miscalculated and led it out too early." The HTC-Columbia mistake opened the door for the 31-year-old Brown, who was beaming after his first victory of 2010: "I finally got my win!"

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