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Who is Lukas Pöstlberger, the surprise leader of the Giro d’Italia?

Joseph Delves
6 May 2017

Magic start to the Giro as little known rider out foxes the sprinters to take pink

It absolutely wasn’t supposed to happen like that. It was a formality that a big sprinter would win the centenary Giro d'Italia’s first stage and go into the pink jersey. Instead a 25-year-old domestique from Bora-Hansgrohe jumped ahead of the peloton on a corner 1.8 kilometres from the finish.

Scheduled to provide a leadout for his teammates Sam Bennett and Matteo Pelucchi, Pöstlberger instead having found himself with a gap his team yelled that he should push on. With the riders behind assuming he’d be easily gobbled back up, even the TV cameras barely bothered to keep him in frame.

It was only with about 600 metres to go that everyone realised they’d mistimed it, and the little known rider from Austria in his rookie grand tour was left time to look behind and cross the line with his hands aloft. 

Despite being the youngest ever Austrian national champ, a stage win at his home tour was formerly the highlight of the young rider’s palmares. Having previously ridden for continental team Tirol Cycling, this and an overall win at the An Post Rás in Ireland were enough to attract the attention of Bora-Argon.

All-rounder

He joined the team joined towards the end of 2015 on a trainee contract, making last year his first full season with the German squad.

Initially taken on with a view to developing his talents as a Classics rider, team manager Ralph Denk said at the time ‘Lukas is an all-rounder, he can prove himself in the Classics, but did already win stage races’. 

With his win Pöstlberger becomes one of the least likely leaders in the history of the Giro D’Italia. He’ll go into the next stage with a four second advantage over Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott).

It'll now be up to the team and the young rider to defend the jersey for as long as possible 

Following the result the team's sports director, Jens Zemke told Eurosport, ‘We only came here hoping to win a stage.' Now they’ve got the Maglia Rosa.

And for the last word, here's what the man himself had to say: ‘Through the last corners the peloton split. Then I hear it on the radio, my orders to go. I tried. And it worked. I’m overwhelmed.'

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