21 Jan. 2019

Top5 results for a strong team at Tour Down Under

This year’s edition of the «Tour Down Under» as the first Worldtour race of the season was characterized by heat, crashes and tight margins. The BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM performed strongly despite a couple of incidents before the start of the stage race: Rohan Dennis finished the race in 5th in the overall standings, and the team got 2nd in the team classification.

While most riders of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM travelled to Cambrils, Spain for the second training camp of the season, seven riders gathered at the other side of the globe for the first race of the season: Rohan Dennis and Domenico Pozzovivo were sharing leadership duties in the overall standings, supported by Hermann Pernsteiner. As for the three mostly flat stages of the race, the newly formed sprint train with Yukiya Arashiro, Heinrich Haussler and Marcel Sieberg was fine tuning its mechanisms and cooperation to get Phil Bauhaus into the bunchsprints in the best position. Two more stages were deemed to demanding for a bunchsprint, and the final stage finishing atop Willunga Hill was supposed to be decisive for the overall standings of the race.

The riders of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM travelled to Southern Australia one week before the race started and in good spirits, making good use of the ideal summer weather to log some training miles. On one of these rides Domenico Pozzovivo crashed on a high-speed descent. Luckily the Italian climber got away with bruises and abrasions to the left side of his body. As for the «Down Under Classic», a criterium held in Adelaide two days before the start of the stage race, the riders in red, gold and dark blue had some more bad luck: Coming out of the final corner, Phil Bauhaus was brought down by another rider and out of contention for the sprint. Luckily he did not suffer any injuries in this incident. Still, the run-up to the Tour Down Under was far from ideal for the team.

But the riders of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM remained unfazed by this: At the end of the first stage, Phil Bauhaus sprinted to a 4th place in Port Adelaide, scoring his first top5 result for the team. In the other two bunchsprints of the race the young German crossed the line in 6th twice, relying on the support of his sprint train. As for the two hilly stages Domenico Pozzovivo rebounded from his injuries impressively, finishing in 10th and 15th respectively. Just like him, Rohan Dennis made it to the finish line in the same group than the stage winner. Thus the two captains of the team were only 26 seconds in arrears in the overall standings before the final and decisive stages, well in reach of a top result in the overall standings.

As expected the overall standings of this year’s «Tour Down Under» had to be decided in the final hour of racing when one attack followed the other. Rohan Dennis and Domenico Pozzovivo kept their powder dry in this phase, but just like all others they could not react to the decisive attack  of Richie Porte who got to celebrate his fifth consecutive win atop Willunga Hill. Three seconds later Rohan Dennis crossed the finish line in 4th, moving up to 5th in the overall standings. A bit further back Domenico Pozzovivo finished the stage in 14th, moving up to 14th in the overall as well. As for the team classification, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM finished the race in 2nd thanks to a strong team performance, particularly of Hermann Pernsteiner and Yukiya Arashiro in the two hilly stages and the decisive final stage.

TOUR DOWN UNDER 2019, TEAM CLASSIFICATION:
1. UAE Team Emirates in 61:34.22 hours
2. BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM + 0.43
3. Team Dimension Data + 0.55