29 Aug 2022

Bilbao wins final stage at Deutschland Tour

With his win in the conclusive stage of the Deutschland Tour, Pello Bilbao cemented his 2nd place in the overall standings and managed to win the points classification as well. As for the Vuelta a España, Fred Wright and Edoardo Zambanini both scored 3rd place finishes in stages from days in the breakaway.

At the Deutschland Tour, Jonathan Milan got promoted to be the team’s man for bunch sprints as Phil Bauhaus could not take the start due to a positive covid test. With a 2nd place at the end of the first stage, Milan showed that he could keep up with the fast men of the peloton. In the finale of the second stage, Milan sacrificed himself for his GC captain Pello Bilbao after a split had occurred in the peloton. Bilbao returned this favour in the finale of the third stage that was finished atop the Schauinsland climb. The Basque rider only got beaten by Adam Yates, but dropped all others to finish in 2nd and move into 2nd in the overall standings as well. With a Classics profile and a tricky local loop around the finishing town of Stuttgart, the final stage offered some last opportunities to change the overall standings.

At first, a group of a dozen riders took charge of things in this conclusive stage. Due to a series of attacks, this breakaway shrank to first seven and then four riders. The main bunch had paced its effort perfectly, however, as the last attackers were brought back on the final local loop in and around Stuttgart, and Pello Bilbao could rely on the support of Hermann Pernsteiner. As the last kilometre started, Bilbao had latched himself on the rear wheel of Adam Yates. From there, he timed his acceleration really well and sprinted to the stage win from a group of a dozen riders. Thanks to this stage win, Bilbao also won the points classification, and he cemented his 2nd place in the overall standings of the Deutschland Tour.

At the Vuelta a España, Fred Wright only got to wear the white jersey of the best young rider for a single day. Finishing in 12th, Gino Mäder was the best-placed rider of Team Bahrain Victorious at the mountaintop finish of Pico Jano and the only rider of the team to keep up with the pre-race favourites. One day later, Fred Wright was back on the attack in stage 7, and despite being the fastest sprinter in the breakaway, he did too much work in the finale and started his sprint from too far out, crossing the finish line in 3rd place. Thanks to his presence in the lead group, Team Bahrain Victorious moved into the lead in the team classification for one day. On the next day, it was up to Mikel Landa to join the breakaway, but the Basque rider ran out of steam on the final ascent. As a consolation prize, he was awarded as the day's most combative rider.

The ninth stage of the Vuelta a España was a demanding ride through the hills and mountains of the Asturias region. With gradients hardly ever dropping below double-digit percentages, the final climb to les Praeres was particularly hard. After a series of neutralised attacks, nine riders managed to get out of the grasp of the peloton, and young Edoardo Zambanini was flying the colours of Team Bahrain Victorious in this breakaway that built a maximum lead of over 5 minutes and kept cooperating nicely on the way to the final ascent. When the first attacks came, Edoardo Zambanini chose to continue at his own pace. This was the right decision as the young Italian only lost one minute to the stage winner and crossed the finish line in 3rd. This was a welcome silver lining for the team before the second rest day, as Wout Poels had been forced out of the race due to a positive covid test earlier in the day.

With a distance of 254.8 kilometres and a revised, much hillier parcourse further away from the coast, the Bretagne Classic posed a proper challenge for all riders. Team Bahrain Victorious brought a team with Yukiya Arashiro, Damiano Caruso, Matevz Govekar, Kamil Gradek, Johan Price-Pejtersen, Jan Tratnik and Stevie Williams to this one-day race and clearly stated that it intended to animate the race. At first, a six-rider breakaway took charge of things, but with 64 kilometres to go Jan Tratnik joined forces with some other riders and mounted a serious counterattack. The rider from Slovenia managed to get to the sharp end of the race, rode in the lead with two more riders for a while and only got caught by a select group with 4.2 kilometres to go. The race was decided in a sprint by this group, and Tratnik crossed the finish line in 14th.

1. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:11.19 hours
2. Ruben Guerreiro, POR, st
3. Georg Zimmermann, GER, st

1. Adam Yates, GBR, in 3:41.19 hours
2. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.19
3. Mauri Vansevenant, BEL, + 0.28

1. Adam Yates, GBR, in 16:54.56 hours
2. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.22
3. Ruben Guerreiro, POR, + 0.44

1. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, 27 points
2. Adam Yates, GBR, 25 points
3. Alexander Kristoff, NOR, 20 points

1. Louis Meintjes, RSA, in 4:32.39 hours
2. Samuele Battistella, ITA, + 1.01
3. Edoardo Zambanini, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 1.14

1. Jesus Herrada, ESP, in 4:30.58 hours
2. Samuele Battistella, ITA, st

Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency