20 Apr 2022

Stage win for Bilbao in the Alps

At the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the Amstel Gold Race, Team Bahrain Victorious and Dylan Teuns, in particular, raced courageously, with the latter having to settle for top10 results. Pello Bilbao, on the other hand, won the second stage of the Tour of the Alps, and Matej Mohoric showed a strong performance at Paris-Roubaix to finish in 5th.

The Tour of the Alps may only consist of four stages, but all of these lead through the Dolomites and the Southern and Eastern Tyrol regions. Thus there is no lack of climbing meters in this race that has become a popular test of form heading into the Giro d'Italia. Team Bahrain Victorious has come to the Tour of the Alps race with a strong line-up: Its two Basque co-captains Pello Bilbao and Mikel Landa can rely on the support of Domen Novak, Edoardo Zambanini, Hermann Pernsteiner and Santiago Buitrago. As for the first stage, the peloton left a bit too much room for a group of six early attackers, allowing Geoffrey Bouchard to stay upfront and take the stage win. Pello Bilbao crossed the finish line 5 seconds later, winning the sprint for 2nd place.

With three long climbs, the second stage leading vom San Martino di Castrozza to Lana was every bit as demanding. Right from the start, the riders had to tackle the 21 kilometre-long Passo Rolle ascent. This is where an eleven-rider breakaway went up the road with some pre-race favourites and Hermann Pernsteiner. This large group broke to pieces on the long Passo della Mendola climb, and only four riders remained upfront on the lower slopes of the Passo delle Palade. This was when Hermann Pernsteiner dropped back from the leaders to the chase group to help close the gap for Bilbao and Landa. Team Bahrain Victorious made good use of the following descent from the Passo delle Palade to close the one-minute gap to the last remaining attackers and to reduce the first group to 16 riders.

Deep into the finale, the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious played their strength in numbers perfectly: First, Hermann Pernsteiner kept the pace high to keep anyone from attacking from far. Then it was up to Santiago Buitrago and Mikel Landa to lead Pello Bilbao into the sprint, and the latter did not disappoint, leaving his rivals behind and crowning the great team effort with a stage win. As the winner of the first stage had lost contact and time, Bilbao also moved into the lead in the overall standings. But after two of the overall four stages, the margins are still minimal, and nothing decisive has happened yet. But seeing the strength of the team and Bilbao's excellent form, there is reason for optimism.

Due to France's presidential elections, the Paris-Roubaix Classic had been moved to Easter Sunday. Only 40 kilometres into the race Team Ineos Grenadiers surprised many of its rivals by using some crosswind to form an echelon. While many teams had to work hard to straighten this situation, Matej Mohoric and three other riders of Team Bahrain Victorious managed to slip into the first group. Before the race hit the infamous Forst of Arenberg sector, Mohoric went up the road with four other riders, and from there, he remained at the sharp end of this race. With 25 kilometres to go, neither he nor anyone else could react to the decisive acceleration by Dylan van Baarle. And in the Velodrome of Roubaix, Matej Mohoric had nothing left for the sprint for 2nd anymore. Still, he scored a great result in the Hell of a North by finishing in 5th place.

An honourable mention also goes out to Damiano Caruso: Since Team Bahrain Victorious did not compete at the Tour of Sicily, Caruso asked the team to start as a member of the Italian national selection instead at this stage race on home turf held before the Easter holidays. The team gave its okay, and Damiano Caruso won two stages and the overall standings aboard the Scultura Team


1. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 3:56.05 hours
2. Romain Bardet, FRA, st
3. Attila Valter, HUN, st

1. Geoffrey Bouchard, FRA, in 4:12.22 hours
2. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.05
3. Romain Bardet, FRA, st