Stage Win, Runner-Up Finish and Team Title Cap Tour de Savoie

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By Sean Weide
19 Jun 16

Cluses, France - Tao Geoghegan Hart won Sunday's final stage of Tour de Savoie Mont-Blanc to secure a runner-up finish overall while the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team captured the team title.

Geoghegan Hart and race winner Enric Mas (Klein Constantia) broke away late in the 130-kilometer race and crossed the line 35 seconds ahead of third-placed Ben O'Connor (Avanti IsoWhey Sport) with a shattered field behind.

Axeon Hagens Berman's Adrien Costa, who won the individual time trial on Saturday's dual-stage day, placed fifth, 1:57 back. Ruben Guerreiro, runner-up in both the time trial and road race on Saturday's, was 11th and placed 15th overall.

Axeon Hagens Berman General Manager Axel Merckx, who was coaxed onto stage to join his six riders for the presentation of the winning team, said the team's performance lived up to its motto to "Prove It."

"It was not just Tao today, it was the whole team," Merckx said. "There were three major climbs and right away from the bottom of the first one, we went hard and tried to split everything up and put pressure on the yellow jersey."

Three in the Breakaway

Geoghegan Hart, Costa and a third teammate - Irish Under 23 national road champion Eddie Dunbar - were part of a breakaway that eventually shaped the complexion of the last stage. Eventually, only Geoghegan Hart and Mas were still at the front over the top of the last climb.

In the final overall standings, Mas finished with a three-second margin of victory over Geoghegan Hart. O'Connor was third, 1:24 back.

"I am happy to finish on the podium," Geoghegan Hart said. "Of course, the win was the ultimate goal and I think the way my teammates rode throughout the race, they really deserved to come away with the win. But nonetheless, with two stages, second on the general classification (GC), team GC and more podiums, I think we had a great week here in the Alps."

Geoghegan Hart's victory was his second of the year, adding to his solo win at the one-day Italian race, Trofeo Piva, in early April. It was also the third win in three days for Axeon Hagens Berman, which competed in two races on two continents this week.

On Friday, Neilson Powless won the individual time trial at the Tour de Beauce. Saturday, Costa captured the individual time trial at Tour de Savoie. And Guerreiro nearly delivered a fourth win Saturday in France with a runner-up finish in the road race on the double-stage day.

The team title was Axeon Hagens Berman's third of the season, adding to those won in April at Volta ao Alentejo and the Redlands Bicycle Classic. Geoghegan Hart's victory was the team's 16th overall on the year and its 11th in UCI competition.

(Photo of the team title podium by Jim Anderson.)

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