RSNplusTOTA: Satisfied with the start despite the crash
By Peter Maurer of Primiero
Ben Zwiehoff (Bora – hansgrohe) at the finish of the 1st stage of the Tour of the Alps | Photo: Mario Stiehl
04/18/2022 | (rsn) – Ben Zwiehoff put it all on the map on day one of the Tour of the Alps. The former mountain biker, who signed his first professional road contract with Bora-hansgrohe last year, was part of today’s breakaway but had to bury his hopes of stage victory after crashing in the final descent.
“The plan was all or nothing and it became the second,” the 28-year-old told radsport-news.com after the race. But the man from Essen saw no reason to be angry. “I’m not here now and I’m completely devastated. I bet everything on winning and I was close. Our plan almost worked,” added Zwiehoff. In the end, his breakout companion Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën), who with the professional from Bora was the strongest driver in the group of six breakaways, won.
On the last mountain of the day, the Passo Gobbera, the Frenchman left his competitor behind with around 25 kilometers to go. On the descent, Zwiehoff again tried to close the gap, but risked too much and fell to the ground. “I couldn’t close the gap uphill, so I had to try something downhill,” said Zwiehoff, who flew into one of the corners and lost his chance of victory. ___STABLE_PAYWALL___
The former mountain biker started his second season as a professional at the Mallorca Challenge Photo: Cor Vos
With his jersey torn, he dragged himself home in 68th place, five minutes behind Bouchard, who in turn was just four seconds ahead of the pack when he crossed the line at Primiero.
Winner Bouchard: “Ben was really strong today”
“Of course, it’s always boring when it works for the other person. ‘What if’ is a train of thought you don’t need in our sport. I made the mistake in the mountains, not in downhill,” Zwiehoff continued. Even the eventual winner paid tribute to his German companion. “He was really strong today. Maybe we both rode too hard on the first mountain and then our mates were empty. But it’s still a game like a breakaway. You need speed against the field, but also the cooperation of others so that you share the tempo with you,” said Bouchard.
When the 30-year-old started and left Zwiehoff standing, he wasn’t sure if he was going to miss his chance to win: “We had a headwind and when he left I thought it was maybe -be a mistake. Because alone against the field, it would be difficult to defend the lead,” Bouchard said. It was just enough for his first professional win.
At the start of the Tour des Alpes, Zwiehoff was the strongest rider in the group of six breakaways, along with stage winner Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën). | Photo: Cor Vos
Zwiehoff, who has just returned from the altitude training camp, had a very good day at the start of the Tour des Alpes. “I had a good move, especially on the last climb, but Geoffrey surprised me,” said Zwiehoff, very pleased with his performance. After a strong start to the season with two top ten finishes in Mallorca, he recently returned to the assistant role, which the latecomer will also take on in a few weeks on his second three-week tour.
Because for Zwiehoff it’s the Giro d’Italia at the beginning of May. “I only switched to the road relatively late, so it’s a goal to have taken part in all three Grand Tours. And this year, two of the three are already on the programme,” he said with a smile. In the fall, the Vuelta will be waiting for him.
Tomorrow, however, we will start the 2nd leg of the five-day circuit in a new jersey. Not only because he was completely shredded from the start after the fall, but because Zwiehoff, second in the mountain standings, will wear the blue jersey in Bouchard’s name.