First professional win for Santiago Buitrago
On what was only the second day of racing the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious got to celebrate a first win. At the end of the 2nd stage of the Saudi Tour, Santiago Buitrago rode a tactically mature race. The young Colombian measured up his rivals correctly and secured the win at the first mountain top finish.
The month of January was dedicated to training camps and fine tuning both men and equipment. But in the month of February Team Bahrain Victorious returns to racing for the season 2022 at two stage races: The Saudi Tour on the Arabic peninsula and the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain. In Saudi Arabia both Santiago Buitrago and Fred Wright are the co-captains who can rely on the support of the freshly signed powerful trio of Kamil Gradek, Filip Maciejuk and Jasha Sütterlin and of Jonathan Milan and Ahmed Madan. With this line-up the team looks well-prepared for wind-exposed sections and tougher finales, but it lacks a pure sprinter. For this reason the riders in red and black were not contesting for the top spots at the end of the first stage, with Jasha Sütterlin finishing as the team’s best-placed rider in 20th.
The second stage was a lot more tricky and finished with a climb that was 1.6 kilometers long and had an average gradient of 7.7 percents. After the day’s early attackers had been brought back in time, the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious set a fast pace on the approach to the final ascent. As soon as the road started to point up to the finish at Abu Rakah, riders started to get dropped from the first group. Santiago Buitrago moved up in the group, accelerating slightly and measuring up potential rivals before accelerating with 1.2 kilometers to go. At first Daniel Oss was the only rider who could follow, then Andrea Bagioli tried to counter the move of Buitrago but the young Colombian was the strongest rider, going for the win with a sprint from 300 meters out and distancing his closest rival by multiple bicycle lengths. For Santiago Buitrago, this was his first victory in the pro ranks, and for Team Bahrain Victorious it was the first win of the season on the second day of racing.
Things were not running all that impressively in the opening stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, but the start list of this race is much stronger as well. Team Bahrain Victorious brought a strong team with Pello Bilbao, Luis Leon Sanchez and Dylan Teuns all having finished on the overall podium of this race in the past. Matej Mohoric was another rider to watch thanks to his attacking riding. These four riders could count on the support of Yukiya Arashiro, Jan Tratnik and Stevie Williams. When the opening stage reached the foot of the conclusive climb, Team Bahrain Victorious moved to the sharp end of the race with no less than five riders, upping the pace. But they could not keep this pace up all the way to the top of the climb, giving Remco Evenepoel an opportunity for a successful attack. As the best-placed rider in Red and Black, Luis Leon Sanchez finished the opening stage of the race in 5th place.
SAUDI TOUR, STAGE 2: TAIBAH UNIVERSITY - ABU RAKAH, 163.9KM
1. Santiago Buitrago, COL/Team Bahrain Victorious, in 3:43.51 hours
2. Andrea Bagioli, ITA, + 0.01
3. Anthon Charmig, DEN, + 0.0