27. — 30. 7. 2023


27. — 30. 7. 2023

Zana defends his crown on the SAZKA Tour, Johannessen again takes the laurels for stage victory

The youngster from Italy, Filippo Zana riding for Bardiani-CSF-Fiazane, defended his yellow jersey for best rider on the race in the final stage of the SAZKA Tour. The 175-kilometre stage from Šumperk to Šternberk was won by Tobias Halland Johannessen of Norway, riding for UNO-X Pro Cycling Team, ahead of Zana, and third place, to the joy of Czech enthusiasts, went to Adam Ťoupalík of Elkov Kasper. The highest ranked of the local riders in the overall standings was Jan Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) in seventh place.

The peloton had a total of eight climb bonuses to look forward to. It started with well-known Jeseníky hills, such as Červenohorské sedlo, Vidly, Lyra and Hvězda, and concluded with a four-point bonus on Ecce Homo at the end destination of Šternberk.

After the first climb bonus on Bratrušov hill a group of five detached from the main group. This comprised Jack Bauer of New Zealand, Daniel Turek, Jen van den Dool of the Netherlands, Veljko Stojnič of Serbia and Pawel Cieslik of Poland. The group was later joined by Jan Bakelants of Belgium. The break-away group of six maintained a gap of two and a half minutes, which started to reduce as they approached the final circuits in Šternberk.

With the first transit the breakaway was eliminated and a group of 40 riders took the lead, which included all the top riders in the standings. Elkov Kasper showed its strength at the end, when Adam Ťoupalík took third place and Jakub Otruba, Michael Kukrle and Jan Bárta finished in sixth to eighth places. For Zana it culminated a successful campaign on the Czech roads, which started with victory two months earlier in the Peace Race U23.

In the run-up to the final circuit, Kukrle attacked, but his small lead was eliminated by his opponents. At this moment the best pair attacked the finish and made a few metres on the rest, which they kept until the finish line and repeated the order in which they finished on Saturday on Dlouhé stráně.

“On the way to Šternberk it was very windy, and the pack was nervous, so the lead was quickly reduced. In the first run down to Šternberk we rode in the front and tried to save our strength. There were enough of us, so we attacked. The first to try was Honza Bárta, and as we came into the final circuit Michael Kukrle, who in 2018 won a stage here, attacked and quickly built a lead of 15 seconds. However, in the end the best two riders pulled away, and no one could catch them. The guys worked with me fantastically to the finish, and the same as last year it was third place,” commented Adam Ťoupalík on the fourth stage of the SAZKA Tour.

Although in the overall standings he was the top ranked Czech rider, Jan Hirt expressed no joy in this result. "I definitely didn't come into the race with the goal of being the best Czech. The race is very nice, I just needed to be in better form. My final position is not so bad, but neither is it one that I would boast about," said Hirt.


4th stage: Šumperk - Šternberk (174.1 km):

1. T. H. Johannessen (Nor./Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) 4:21:18, 2. Zana (It./Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) identical time, 3. A. Ťoupalík (Elkov Kasper), 4. Maas (Neth./Leopard Pro Cycling) both +4, 5. Gabburo (It./Bardiani-CSF-Faizane), 6. Otruba, 7. Kukrle, 8. J. Bárta (all Elkov Kasper) all +5, ...15. Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) +9, 29. Neuman +1:54, 45. Zahálka +3:43, 60. Petr Kelemen (all Elkov Kasper) +4:34, 72. M. Vacek (Gazprom - RusVelo), 73. Turek (Team Felbermayr - Simplon Wels) both +8:05.

Final standings:

1. Zana 16:45:21, 2. T. H. Johannessen +15, 3. Taaramae (Est./Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) +40, 4. Schultz (Austr./Team BikeExchange) +43, 5. Zoidl (Rak./Team Felbermayr - Simplon Wels) +1:04, 6. Covili (It./Bardiani-CSF-Faizane) +1:30, 7. Hirt +1:34, ...12. Kukrle 2:27, 13. Otruba +2:44, 14. A. Ťoupalík +2:50, 15. J. Bárta +3:59, 42. Zahálka +22:41, 43. Turek +22:52, 44. Neuman +22:58, 51. Petr Kelemen +28:10, 75. M. Vacek +43:36.

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