Shane Archbold ended the 2.HC Tour of Slovenia in style, sprinting to third place in the final stage for BORA-Hansgrohe.  Giacomo Nizzolo of Dimension Data took the stage with Luka Mezgec of Mitchelton-SCOTT second at the end of a dynamic stage to from Trebnje to Novo Mesto; with Diego Ulissi of UAE Team Emirates triumphing overall.

The final 167.5km was in theory a sprinter’s stage, with a couple of reasonably tough category 3 climbs to navigate first.  The last of those peaked with 29km to go though, leaving any strugglers with plenty of road to recoup their losses if need be.  The break of the day featured three riders and had Mitchelton-SCOTT and Dimension Data sharing the pace-setting duties at the front of the race with UAE Team Emirates not far away.

Dynamic breakaway action

At the front of the race Charles Planet of Team Novo Nordisk, Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz of Delko Marseille Provence and Žiga Horvat of Adria Mobil formed the break of the day and with 72km remaining their lead sat at about 2.45mins. En route to the first of the KOM climbs Gazprom RusVelo made their way to the front of the race and proceeded to gradually eat away at the break’s advantage.

With 57km to go the break’s advantage had been cut to less than a minute but there was drama to come from the peloton as a group containing the overall leader in Diego Ulissi went on the offensive.  This left Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM in the position of having to limit their losses to a very committed group led by Gazprom-RusVelo.  The group were brought back together with 52km to go but then another quartet went up the road.

At this point Shane Archbold was hanging at the back of the peloton out of trouble with team sprinter Pascal Ackermann not starting the stage.  Up the road in the new break was Australian Ben Hill of Ljubljana Gusto Santic.  They got a lead of 45 seconds with 45km to go, but with Israel Cycling Academy joining Dimension Data at the front of the race that lead wouldn’t last.  Gradually it was the break that cracked with just Umberto Marengo of Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM and Yukia Arashiro of Bahrain Merida able to keep pace out in front as Gazprom-RusVelo again moved to the front.

Diego Ulissi is flanked by Giovanni Visconti (left) and Aleksandr Vlasov (right) on the GC podium, photo Vid Ponikva – Sportida

Archbold makes winning break

Eventually the leaders were brought back and a large group of riders went up the road.  This time Shane Archbold was on the group for BORA-Hansgrohe, with Luka Mezgec present, Nizzolo, Ulissi and co all present.  Also in the move were the likes of Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Esteban Chaves and Cameron Meyer; and Israel Cycling Academy’s Davide Cimolai.

Archbold had teammate Oscar Gatto with him in the group, but with no strong team presence there the Kiwi was able to keep his powder dry as the likes of UAE Team Emirates did the work at the front.  With less than 20km to go Mitchelton-SCOTT had control of the large leading group that was constantly gaining on the remnants of the peloton behind them that were 1.34mins behind with just under 14km to go.  Israel Cycling Academy came forward and joined the Australian outfit at the front of the race while the lime green jersey of race leader Diego Ulissi kept a close eye on events.

The first time through the finish line with 8.4km to go the big break’s lead was at 1.25mins with Bahrain Merida leading the rest of the field through behind them.

Nizzolo wins as Archbold takes an opportunity

Mitchelton-SCOTT and Israel Cycling Academy remained comfortable at the front of the break through 5km to go and onwards as the sprint neared.  Shane Archbold steadily moved himself into position at about 8th wheel with 2km remaining.  He had Gatto right in front of him as the race went under the kilometre to go banner.  

At the bend with 1km to go though the race became quite messy, but BORA-Hansgrohe managed the mess brilliantly, with Gatto taking Archbold through to the final turn in second place.  Archbold lost a couple of places as Mitchelton-SCOTT muscled their way to the front of the race and looked to have the stage wrapped up for Mezgec.  A big turn of pace from Nizzolo, however, saw the Italian shoot to the front of the field and never look back.  Archbold was left with a bit of work to do but he did well to pick up a couple of places and secure third place across the line.

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