Sep Vanmarcke sprinted to third place on stage three of the Tour of Austria on Wednesday. It’s Vanmarcke’s fourth top-five finish in as many days. The result in Altheim allowed him to hold tight to race leader’s yellow.
“I knew sprinting for podium would be the best I could do today, with Viviani in the bunch,” he said. “So I’m happy I did that.”
“We aimed for the stage win again,” Vanmarcke added. “None of us can win a bunch sprint, so we attacked all day. The racing was tough for the first 50 kilometers, until eventually three riders got into a break.”
The trio remained under control of the peloton and was never given a bigger advantage than three minutes.
“We caught them back at 60 kilometers from the line, and then it started all over again: attack after attack,” Vanmarcke said. “My teammates were so strong and were represented in most of the breakaway attempts.”
The Italian national team, riding for Elia Viviani, on loan from Team Sky, closed down a late race three-rider escape as the stage reached its finale.
“Unfortunately a sprint couldn’t be avoided,” Vanmarcke said. “So my teammates did a lead-out for me again.”
Viviani won the sprint. Israel Cycling Academy’s Jason Lowndes was able to throw his bike across the line just ahead of Vanmarcke, who took third.
Another podium for the Belgian. One more day in yellow. He’ll savor it on Thursday as he expects it to hand it over at the stage four finish in St. Johann – Alpenbdorf.
“The climb in tomorrow’s stage is really hard, way too hard for me,” he said. “I’m definitely going to lose the leader’s jersey. But that’s OK. I have thoroughly enjoyed wearing it for the first half of this tour.”
Vanmarcke had one rider less to help protect his lead today. Australian Brendan Canty was forced sideline this morning after his stage one crash. A chainring pierced the skin of his lower leg, deep enough to take a minuscule chip from his shinbone.
Although Canty did take to the start in stage two, he had already expressed his doubts about being able to finish the Tour of Austria.
“The problem is that the stages get harder from here,” he said. “And there’s also the concern of infection, since it was a dirty cut from a chainring.”
The decision was made for Canty.
“Our sports director, Ken Vanmarcke, came to see me this morning and informed me that the team doctors made a decision that I shouldn’t start,” he said. “I think mostly to let the wound heal and limit the risk of infection.”
The neo-pro will fly home to Girona, Spain, to recover from his injuries.
“I’ll probably take a couple of days complete rest, as there’s time before my next race,” he said. “There’s no need to rush back into training.”
“I’ll find out what the doctors think regarding training lightly on it,” Canty added. “The road rash is pretty sore too, so I’d probably be happy letting that heal a little bit too!”