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Riccardo Zoidl triumphed in Velouchi to claim the cyan jersey of the ΔΕΗ International Tour of Hellas 2024

Riccardo Zoidl triumphed in Velouchi to claim the cyan jersey of the ΔΕΗ International Tour of Hellas 2024

Austria’s Riccardo Zoidl managed to climb from the 105th place in the second stage of the ΔΕΗ International Tour of Hellas to the top position of the general classification in a single stage!

The 36-year-old rider from Wels, a small town at an altitude of 317 metres in Austria, was the winner of the Tour’s queen stage at an altitude of 1,858 m in the magnificent Velouchi Mountain in Evrytania.

Team Felt Felbermayr's climber proved to be a fierce fighter in the gruelling last 11.8km uphill, winning the stage from Karditsa to Velouchi and claiming the cyan jersey at the most decisive point of the Tour, putting himself in serious contention to become the Tour victor next Sunday.

With 15 points up for grabs at the finish line in Velouchi, Zoidl also snatched the KoM jersey, while the points jersey went to his teammate Felix Ritzinger, after Iuri Leitao of Caja Rural - Seguros RGA failed to finish the stage. Tomáš Pridal of Elkov – Kasper earned the right to wear the young rider’s jersey.

It was a dream day for Team Felt Felbermayr, who claimed three of the Tour's five jerseys and went 1-2 with Zoidl and Hermann Pernsteiner on the royal stage.

The race

For the third successive day, a Tour stage started - in Karditsa - with light rain. Right before the first climb from Tsardaki to Tsouka, dense fog caused the race to be neutralised one kilometre before the first categorised climb.

When the race restarted on the downhill to Kallithero, VF Group - Bardiani CSF – Faizanè's Italian Samuele Zoccarato, Caja Rural - Seguros RGA's Julen Arriola-Bengoa and Panamanian Roberto Carlos Gonzalez of Team Corratec - Vini Fantini formed the first breakaway group. As a result, the first intermediate sprint was decided between the three with Zoccarato being the winner.

Despite a puncture that left him behind temporarily, the Italian recovered and joined the other two to continue their lonely ride. Moreover, Zoccarato even managed to win the second intermediate sprint in Loutro.

The first rider who tried to get close to the breakaway group was the mountain jersey holder Filippo Tagliani of Vini Monzon - Savini Due – OMZ and he was justified for his decision by grabbing a valuable point in the category 2 climb in Lipouchi, which was won by Arriola - Bengoa.

Earlier, Cyprus’ Bogdan Zabelinskiy dropped and lost his hopes of keeping the young rider jersey to his possession. Gonzalez also gradually dropped.

With the breakaways reaching the 1,494 metres peak in Tymfristos, Arriola-Bengoa got five more points from the cat. 2 climb.

At the outskirts of Karpenissi, the peloton caught the breakaway riders and the final 11.8-kilometre-long battle for the cyan jersey began.

ATT Investments' Marton Dina and Zoidl made the first attack with about eight kilometres to go, but their duel lasted less than two kilometres.

Zoidl made the brave decision to change his pace quite early, leaving the Hungarian behind and never looked back. Dina ended up fourth as he was overtaken by another Team Felt Felbermayr rider - Hermann Pernsteiner - and the Italian Valerio Conti of Corratec Vini Fantini in the final metres.


Riccardo Zoidl: “It was a difficult day for us because we were back when one team took two guys out of us. One in the ambulance and the other at the hospital. Then we sat back and I was really angry because of this unjustified crash.

“So, we give it all in the last part and I’m very happy I did it. My last victory was two years ago so I’m very happy for this win today.

“For the moment, I feel happy the same for the win and also for the 1-2 of our team.

“Of course, now we have a good gap and we’ll try to defend it, but for the moment I enjoy this day because it was a long time without victory and i really enjoy it.

“It was a difficult but really nice stage particularly the first part was really beautiful and I felt very privileged to be part of this. A real perfect day!

“We will see what happens in the end because two of our guys are injured and out of the race. We will see tonight and we surely make a good tactic for the next two days.”

Felix Ritzinger: “If you would tell me this in the morning I would not believe it. It was a perfect day for us. There has been a big chaos in the first climb that affected us because of neutralisation of the first KOM.

We decided to take it on from the front. I worked quite a bit until I couldn’t keep up with my guys anymore. I heard on the radio that out two climbers went crazy and making 1-2 today in a queen stage is pretty insane to be honest.

We will do everything to keep the GC and work for it. It’s the same for everyone, hopefully we will have one of our guys in the top in Athens.

I enjoyed the stage anyway because when I was dropped I had some time to look around the beautiful landscape. I wish I could climb faster but at least I enjoyed the landscape.”

Tomáš Pridal: “I feel a little bit tired but today I was super motivated by the white jersey. I want to keep pushing to the limits. I heard on the radio that I was the best young rider. I knew I can do it. It was tough though.

“I’m super happy, I did it for both me and my team.

“We wanted to keep a good position before the last climb, then it was all about legs.”