Mohoric and Colbrelli shine in Belgium
Just one day after Team Bahrain Victorious got to celebrate a one-two in Houffalize, the riders in red and black doubled up in Geraardsbergen. Matej Mohoric capped off a tactical masterpiece with a solo stage win, and Sonny Colbrelli crossed the finish line in 2nd place eleven seconds later, securing the overall victory at the Benelux Tour. As for the Vuelta a España, the team got to celebrate the overall podium for Jack Haig in 3rd, the win of the White jersey by Gino Mäder and the win in the team classification.
The two conclusive stages of this year’s Benelux Tour will be remembered by Team Bahrain Victorious for quite a while. On Saturday Sonny Colbrelli surprised friend and foe with a stage win in Houffalize after a solo over 25 kilometres, also moving into the lead in the overall standings. On Sunday the riders in red and black could have kept to racing defensively and defending the lead in both the general and the team classification. After all the conclusive stage was pretty tricky, featuring multiple passages over the Mur of Geraardsbergen and other short but very steep climbs, some on cobblestones. At first an eleven-rider breakaway went up the road, and none of these riders was a threat in the overall standings. But the peloton kept this group on a short leash, and when Kasper Asgreen attacked with 51 kilometres to go, the breakaway got absorbed by the chasing group. Only three riders managed to stay with Asgreen who kept pushing on - and one of these three riders was Matej Mohoric who was placed in 2nd in the overall standings.
Despite wearing the leader’s jersey Sonny Colbrelli had no choice but to back off, and the four riders up front quickly built a lead of one minute. This was the sign for some teams in the chasing group to give chase in order to keep the hopes of their GC captains alive, and indeed the chasing group managed to reduce the deficit to 20 seconds when Matej Mohoric attacked and dropped his breakaway companions. While the Slovenian national champion pushed on on his own towards the finish, Colbrelli reacted to every counterattack in the shrinking chase group. Mohoric was out of reach and got to celebrate a solo victory in Geraardsbergen. In his wake Sonny Colbrelli dropped Tom Dumoulin on the final kilometre to cross the finish line in 2nd, securing a second one-two within two days for the team and the overall victory at the Benelux Tour - ahead of his teammate Matej Mohoric. Young Englishman Fred Wright finished the stage in a strong 5th place, effectively sealing the win of Team Bahrain Victorious in the team classification of this seven-stage race.
This Sunday also saw the finale of the Vuelta a España as it finished with a 33.8 kilometre long, hilly individual time trial to the famous place of pilgrimage known as Santiago de Compostela. The day before Team Bahrain Victorious had shown some cunning tactics to get Jack Haig into 3rd in the overall standings and take the White jersey of the best young rider with Gino Mäder. Jack Haig only had an advantage of one minute over Adam Yates and conceded 25 seconds at the first intermediate timing point. But from there the Australian found his rhythm and put an additional 26 seconds into Yates at the finish line, securing his place on the podium in 3rd. Gino Mäder conceded some of his advantage in the concluding time trial but brought the White jersey home safely, and Team Bahrain Victorious won the team classification of the Vuelta a España as well. Add to that the epic stage victory of Damiano Caruso, and you've got quite a campaign in Spain.
17TH BENELUX TOUR, STAGE 7: NAMUR - GERAARDSBERGEN, 177.9KM
1. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 3:50.56 hours
2. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.11
3. Tom Dumoulin, NED, + 0.15
FINAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION:
1. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 24:14.29 hours
2. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.29
3. Victor Campenaerts, BEL, + 1.14
1. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BHR, in 72:47.35 hours
2. Alpecin-Fénix, BEL, + 9.00
3. Ineos Grenadiers, GBR, + 9.44
76TH VUELTA A ESPAÑA, FINAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION:
1. Primoz Roglic, SVN, in 83:55.29 hours
2. Enric Mas, ESP, + 4.42
3. Jack Haig, AUS/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 7.40
YOUNG RIDERS' CLASSIFICATION:
1. Gino Mäder, SUI/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 84:07.02 hours
2. Egan Bernal, COL, + 1.54
3. Juan Pedro Lopez, ESP, + 19.48
1. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BHR
2. Team Jumbo Visma, NED, + 7.26
3. Ineos Grenadiers, GBR, + 32.18