Podium results for Team Bahrain Victorious
On this Saturday the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious may not have won. But with a 2nd place for Sonny Colbrelli at Omloop het Nieuwsblad and 3rd places for Pello Bilbao both in the conclusive stage and the overall standings of the UAE Tour the riders in red and black still had some podium results to celebrate.
At the end of February, the Omloop het Nieuwsblad marks the start of the cycling racing season in Northwestern Europe and in Flanders as the heartland of competitive cycling. From the start in Ghent, this one-day race leads over a multitude of steep climbs and cobblestone sectors known from the Ronde van Vlaanderen. For this iconic race that for a change was ridden in sunshine and without significant winds, Team Bahrain Victorious fielded a strong selection of riders. The two co-captains Sonny Colbrelli and Matej Mohoric could rely on the support of Heinrich Haussler, Luis Leon Sanchez, Fred Wright and Kamil Gradek. In case that the race should come down to a bunch sprint, Phil Bauhaus was part of the team as well. But when the final hour of the race approached it was obvious that this scenario was highly unlikely to unfold.
As soon as the lead of the day's early attackers sank under the one-minute mark the attacks from various chasing groups set in. Matej Mohoric, Fred Wright and Sonny Colbrelli were riding strong and joined forces to bring back a blistering attack by Tiesj Benoot. But when Wout van Aert attacked with 18 kilometres to go just before the Bosberg nobody could keep up with the reigning Belgian national champion. At least the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious managed to neutralise all attacks from the chasing group, so a 19-rider chase group got to sprint for 2nd place. There was no real match for Sonny Colbrelli in this sprint, and a bit more than one minute later Heinrich Haussler won the sprint of the main group but that was only for 22nd place.
Before the conclusive stage of the UAE Tour that ended with a mountain top finish at Jebel Hafeet Pello Bilbao was positioned in 7th in the overall standings. But the gaps within the top10 were small and a good climb could put Bilbao in the top5 of the GC. The last riders of the day's early attack were absorbed on the lower slopes of the final ascent. When the race hit the final five kilometres there were 5 contenders for a stage win left and Pello Bilbao was one of those. When Pogacar and Yates attacked hard the Basque rider did not give chase right away but paced his effort well to close the gap. While Pogacar and Yates took off again on the final kilometre, Bilbao could not follow, but he finished the stage in 3rd and gained enough time on other riders to move up from 7th to 3rd in the GC on the final day of the race, thus making it to the podium. Team Bahrain Victorious also finished the UAE Tour in 3rd in the team classification.
77TH OMLOPP HET NIEUWSBLAD: GHENT - NINOVE, 204.2KM
1. Wout van Aert, BEL, in 4:50.46 hours
2. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.22
3. Greg van Avermaet, BEL, st
4TH UAE TOUR, STAGE 7: AL AIN - JEBEL HAFEET, 148KM
1. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, in 3:20.24 hours
2. Adam Yates, GBR, + 0.01
3. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.05
FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS:
1. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, in 25:38.16 hours
2. Adam Yates, GBR, + 0.22
3. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.48
1. UAE Team Emirates, UAE, in 76:56.52 hours
2. Team DSM, NED, + 5.38
3. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BHR, + 9.08
Photos: bettiniphoto - sprintcyclingagency.com