The Tour of the Alps is expected to be a showdown between Bahrain Victorious, Team DSM and Ineos Grenadiers. However, Groupama-FDJ were also keen to join the action on stage 2 and show their strength by placing Michael Storer and Matteo Badilatti in the break, before Attila Valter finished third in the sprint behind Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) and Romain Bardet (Team DSM) and moved up to third overall.
Valter is working to peak for the Giro d’Italia which starts on his home roads in Hungary, while Storer is keen to win again after his two stage victories at the 2021 Vuelta a España.
18-year-old Lenny Martinez, the son of former pro and mountain bike racer Miguel Martinez, also finished in the select front group of 16 riders. Martinez won the prestigious Giro della Lunigiana junior stage race in 2021 and joined the Groupama-FDJ Continental team for 2022. He raced the under-23 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège last Saturday and then jumped on a plane for Italy to ride as a guest rider with the WorldTour team.
Only Thibaut Pinot was missing from the front group for Groupama-FDJ but perhaps the Frenchman is saving himself for an assault on the harder mountain stages over the Passo Furcia on Wednesday and then on the climb to the finish part way up the massive Grossglockner climb in Austria on Thursday.
“It was an interesting stage, very, very hard as you could see. I was happy to be at the front of a race again,” Storer said after his day out front in the break over the 1,984m-high Passo Rolle and then with Sivakov over the Passo della Mendola.
“I thought we would honestly stay away because we were pushing quite hard. We weren’t wasting time there, so I was very surprised after such a long race that Bahrain could pull it back. But I’ll keep giving it a go, but I’m not sure I can last a full five days of this intensity.”
Valter moved up from 14th to third in the overall classification and is growing in confidence. He is still off most people’s radar but was fourth at Strade Bianche and wore the race leader’s pink jersey at the 2021 Giro d’Italia for three stages and finished 14th overall.
“I felt before the start this morning but I was also nervous because there was a big climb from the start: if you don’t have the right legs, such a start can turn into a disaster,” Valter explained.
“Fortunately I was able to get over the two long climbs of the stage without difficulty. I was hoping that Michael Storer could hold out until the line, but when he was caught we changed our plans. He still had the strength to help me in the sprint. I did my best but Pello Bilbao and Romain Bardet were just stronger today.”