Overthrow in Italy, successes in Japan
The final week of this year’s Giro d’Italia was packed with drama: The overall standings got overthrown and some of the favourites took a nosedive. Domenico Pozzovivo also has one bad day but still managed to finish the stage race in 5th in the overall standings. At the Tour of Japan Grega Bole won another stage for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM on the penultimate day and Hermann Pernsteiner leaped to 2nd in the overall standings after a strong performance at the Mount Fuji.
If a rider wants to score a top result at one of the three Grand Tours of cycling, he needs to perform consistently throughout three weeks and be attentive as well. The third week of the 101st Giro d’Italia went to show how hard this actually is: Both the long-time overall leader Simon Yates and Thibaut Pinot took spectacular nosedives on the last two mountain stages of the race, dropping way back in the overall standings as a consequence. Chris Froome, on the other hand, overthrew the entire race with a daring attack over 80 kilometers and three hard climbs. In the same stage Domenico Pozzovivo had a less-than-stellar day: Like many others the captain of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM got isolated on the Colle delle Finestre early on, lost contact to his main rivals in the overall standings and conceded almost eight and a half minutes to the stage winner in the end, still finishing the stage in 11th. Due to this, he dropped from 3rd to 6th in the overall standings. As for the two preceding stages, Niccolo Bonifazio had scored his third 3rd place finish in the bunch sprint in Iseo and a group of early attackers had contested for the win in the stage finishing at Prato Nevoso.
The final mountain stage of the race featured a relatively easy first half but three long climbs in the second half, including the final ascent to Cervinia. Early on a group of 26 riders had attacked, including BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM’s Giovanni Visconti and Matej Mohoric. After this group had been whittled down on the slopes of the Col Tsecore, Mohoric attacked before the top of the pass and extended his lead with another display of his amazing bike handling skills on the descent that followed. But since there were still two long climbs to be ridden he had no chance against the pure-bred climbers in the lead group. A couple of minutes further down the road, the battle for the overall standings flared up one last time, and this time Domenico Pozzovivo had the legs to keep up with his closest rivals. Thanks to this performance, he bounced back to 5th in the overall standings. As for the last stage around and in Rome, the only thing that was at stake was the final stage win at this 101st edition of the Giro d’Italia. With Sam Bennett and Elia Viviani, the two strongest sprinters of the race went head to head one last time. Niccolo Bonifazio, on the other hand, did not feature in this sprint, missing out on another top result.
At the Tour of Japan the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM continued its series of strong results. As three early attackers stayed away in stage 5, Grega Bole lost the green jersey of the overall leader, wearing the blue jersey of the points’ leader instead. The experienced Slovene solidified his lead in the points classification with a second stage win in the demanding Izu stage. Him missing out on a top10 finish in the last stage in Tokyo did not change a thing a thing anymore. The overall standings were decided on the slopes of Mount Fuji, and with Spain’s Marcos Garcia only one rider was stronger than Hermann Pernsteiner at this tough mountaintop finish. Finishing in 2nd, the Austrian climbing specialist also moved into 2nd in the overall standings and defended this position throughout the last two days thanks to the help of his team mates. With two stage wins, two more 2nd places in stages, a 2nd place in the overall standings and the win in the points classification, the Tour of Japan can be considered a full success from the perspective of the riders in red, gold and dark blue. The only real downer was the crash that forced local hero Yukiya Arashiro out of the race, but the Japanese rider was back at the side of the race course to cheer his team mates on the final days of the race.
101ST GIRO D’ITALIA
STAGE 17: RIVA DEL GARDA - ISEO, 155KM
1. Elia Viviani, ITA, in 3:19.57 hours
2. Sam Bennett, IRL, st
3. Niccolo Bonifazio, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, st
TOUR OF JAPAN
STAGE 6: FUJI SPEEDWAY - MOUNT FUIJ, 32.9KM
1. Marcos Garcia, ESP, in 1:19.19 hours
2. Hermann Pernsteiner, AUT/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, + 0.28
3. Chris Harper, AUS, + 1.48
STAGE 7: IZU - IZU, 122KM
1. Grega Bole, SVN/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 3:29.53 hours
2. Chris Harper, AUS, st
3. Felix Alejandro Baron, COL, st
1. Marcos Garcia, ESP, in 19:57.25 hours
2. Hermann Pernsteiner, AUT/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, + 0.35
3. Thomas Lebas, FRA, + 0.53
1. Grega Bole, SVN/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, 110 points
2. Marco Canola, ITA, 83 points
3. Mikhel Raim, EST, 50 points