Gianni Moscon finished an impressive fifth in a thrilling men’s world championship road race in Innsbruck.
Riding in the colours of Italy, Moscon was the best placed of Team Sky’s riders across a punishing 252.9-kilometre course and was right in the mix for the rainbow jersey as the race arrived at the final climb.
The punishing final ‘Hell’ climb to Gramartboden saw the lead group blow apart, with Moscon digging deep to hang with the lead contenders. Despite slipping back on the steep final ramps the 24 year old chased back on the descent, securing a top-five finish, 13 seconds behind the battle for the win.
Alejandro Valverde prevailed at the line, leading out a four-man sprint from the front to claim the world title at 38. The Spaniard held off fellow podium finishers Romain Bardet (France) and Rusty Woods (Canada), with Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) coming home fourth after bridging back to the leaders with 1.5km to go.
Moscon had shown his intent by jumping across the gap over the day’s penultimate climb, with David de la Cruz (Spain) also prominent in the group. De La Cruz was the next Team Sky rider home in 44th, followed closely by Sergio Henao (Colombia) and Pavel Sivakov (Russia).
12 Team Sky riders representing eight nations were in action on the most mountainous worlds course in recent memory. Jonathan Castroviejo put in a lot of work on behalf of teammate Valverde, riding on the front as the laps were ticked off. Ian Stannard and Tao Geoghegan Hart also enjoyed time at the head of the race for Great Britain, stringing out the bunch and keeping the day’s early breakaway within reach.
The penultimate lap saw the lead group thin significantly and saw both Wout Poels (Netherlands) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) dislodged from the peloton. Henao hung tough but would also slip back late on amidst a brutal pace.
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spain/Movistar) 6:46:41
2. Romain Bardet (France/Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
3. Michael Woods (Canada/EF Education First-Drapac)
4. Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands/Team Sunweb)
5. Gianni Moscon (Italy/Team Sky) +13”
44. David de la Cruz (Spain/Team Sky) +5:56”
47. Pavel Sivakov (Russia/Team Sky) +6:00”
48. Sergio Henao (Colombia/Team Sky) +6:02”