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Riders abandon Tour of the Alps on final stage, despite being in the top 10

Riders quitting to focus on Liege-Bastogne-Liege shows just how much teams prioritise some races over others

Josh Cunningham
21 Apr 2017

The Tour of the Alps - a well respected UCI 2.HC event - concludes today with a 200km stage through the Trentino mountains of northern Italy, but a number of riders that had been fighting for the overall classification have dropped out on the last day. 

Damiano Caruso (BMC), Jose Mendes (Bora-Hansgrohe), Davide Formolo and Davide Villela (Cannondale-Drapac), and Stefan Denifl and Larry Warbasse (Aqua Blue Sport) all registed as DNS (did not start) on the morning of the fifth and final stage, which some noted as curious. 

It was soon established though that each of the six riders was due to start Liege-Bastogne-Liege this Sunday, which appeared to answer questions surrounding the riders' untimely exit.

Explanatory tweets from both Cannondale-Drapac and BMC soon confirmed it.

However, Davide Formolo had been sitting in 5th on GC, just 31 seconds down on race leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky), and BMC's Caruso had been 8th at 42 seconds back. Jose Mendes was 16th and Davide Villela 28th.

The decision to abandon while holding such strong positions in the race didn't sit well with some, especially when the chances of success at a race like Liege are a lot slimmer than it would be had the riders in question continued battling at the Tour of the Alps. 

Using certain races as a training platform to prepare for other races has long been ingrained into riders' calendars, but it seems that this episode at the Tour of the Alps has shone light on just how much teams prioritise certain races over others.

Jonathan Vaughters, the Cannondale-Drapac team manager, reasoned that the decision to prematurely withdraw riders could be avoided though: 'I understand why race org[aniser] would be upset. Solution? Strategic+unified calendar of races -Not current overbooked mess,' he said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Geraint Thomas goes into the 5th stage on Friday with a 13 second lead over Thibaut Pinot (FDJ). Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r) is third at 16 seconds, and is also due to start Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.  

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