13 Mar 2022

Landa on the podium at Tirreno Adriatico

This week the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious have been competing at two stage races on World Tour level. Mikel Landa finished 3rd in the Queen’s stage of Tirreno Adriatico and moved up to 3rd in the overall standings as well while the team sealed the win in the team classification. At Paris-Nice Jack Haig performed well in the Queen’s stage and moved up to 6th in the overall standings.

In early March the two stage races Paris-Nice and Tirreno Adriatico mark the start of the racing season in Europe for GC riders. In France Team Bahrain Victorious lined-up a team in support of Jack Haig as its GC captain and Sonny Colbrelli as its sprinter. These two could rely on the support of Gino Mäder, Wout Poels, Luis Leon Sanchez, Fred Wright and Domen Novak. As for the Tirreno Adriatico the team fielded a trio of GC co-captains with Pello Bilbao, Damiano Caruso and Mikel Landa. Phil Bauhaus was set as the protected rider for bunch sprints, with the likes of Jasha Sütterlin, Heinrich Haussler and Jan Tratnik as his lead-out train.

The Tirreno Adriatico stage race started with a pan-flat individual time trial where the GC co-captains of Team Bahrain Victorious focussed on limiting their losses. The initial two point-to-point stages ended in bunch sprints and Phil Bauhaus scored two top10 results finishing in 6th and 7th, respectively. The finale of stage 4 saw some serious climbs and Mikel Landa was the team's best-placed rider in 9th. As for the stage to Fermo the breakaway made it all the way to contest for the win. Landa, Bilbao and Caruso showed a collectively strong performance, and as a consequence Team Bahrain Victorious moved into the lead of the team classification with two days to go.

At 215 kilometers the seventh stage was not only long but also featured two ascents of the hard Monte Carpegna climb in its finale. At first a breakaway took charge of things while the riders in red and black looked strong in the group of favourites. As soon as the early attackers had been caught Pello Bilbao attacked on the technical descent. He got caught, but this was the sign for Mikel Landa to accelerate. Only a few select riders managed to match the Basque rider's pace. Sadly there was no measure to Tadej Pogacar, but in his wake Mikel Landa joined forces with Jonas Vingegaard to give chase. The Basque rider crossed the finish line in 3rd and also moved up to 3rd in the overall standings. Thanks to a 5th place of Damiano Caruso and a 9th place of Pello Bilbao, Team Bahrain Victorious extended its lead in the team classification to more than eight minutes.

Just as many other teams Team Bahrain Victorious lost some key riders early on at the Paris-Nice stage race due to breathing issues and fever. Sonny Colbrelli could not take the start of stage 2 anymore while Gino Mäder and Luis Leon Sanchez both dropped out of the race on the fifth day. This left Wout Poels, Fred Wright and Domen Novak in support of Jack Haig. With a 7th and an 8th place Fred Wright scored two top10 results in bunch sprint finishes, and he was also the best-placed rider of the team in the individual time trial. Thanks to strong rides in stage 5 and then in today's Queen's stage where he finished in 7th, Jack Haig moved up to 6th place in the overall standings. While Paris-Nice finishes with an often frantic stage including the Col d'Eze climb, this year's Tirreno Adriatico finishes with another opportunity for sprint specialists.

1. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, in 5:28.57 hours
2. Jonas Vingegaard, DEN, + 1.03

1. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, in 23:45.55 hours
2. Jonas Vingegaard, DEN, + 1.52

1. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BHR, in 71:26.52 hours
2. UAE Team Emirates, UAE, + 8.11
3. Bora-Hansgrohe, GER, + 19.04