Matej Mohoric nets a third Tour stage win
On the third from last day of the 110th Tour de France, Matej Mohoric rode to a third stage win for Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS. At the end of the blisteringly fast-paced stage 19, the Slovenian narrowly won a three-up sprint in Poligny - and then showed his thoughtful and emotional side in the winner’s interview.
With the cat3 Côte d’Ivory climb peaking at just 30 kilometres from the finish, stage 19 of the Tour de France offered another opportunity for attacking riders. No wonder the fight for a place in the breakaway was intense. Throughout the first hour of racing, all attacks got neutralised, but then a group of nine riders went up the road, and Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS had Jack Haig in there. None of these riders posed a serious threat in the overall standings, but the peloton still held the group on a short leash and the gap at less than one and a half minutes. As a consequence, more than 30 riders managed to leave the peloton behind and jump across to the breakaway after the day’s intermediate sprint. Both Matej Mohoric and Fred Wright made it into this move.
At the Côte d’Ivory as the last real test of the day Kasper Asgreen, the previous day’s stage winner, was the first rider to counter an attack from Victor Campenaerts. The only riders able to match the pace of the Dane were Ben O’Connor and Matej Mohoric. As usual, the latter set a blistering pace on the following descent, thus extending the lead of the trio over its first chasers. Since the breakaway had fragmented on the last climb and many strong sprinters distrusted each other, the chase never really had a chance to get organised and close the gap. Thus, Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS’s Matej Mohoric entered the seemingly endless, tree-lined and 8-kilometre long finishing straight of the stage to Poligny with a stage win within reach and just two rivals left.
“I knew that Ben O’Connor would not stand a chance in the sprint and be the first guy to attack. For this reason, I fully focussed on Kasper Asgreen as he clearly was the strongest rider out there today“, a visibly emotional Matej Mohoric explained in the winner’s interview. And that was exactly what happened: O’Connor opened up his print with 500 meters to go and was brought back with 250 meters to go by Asgreen who had Mohoric hot on his rear wheel. From there, the Slovene timed his acceleration perfectly to get on equal terms with the Danish rider and edge him out with a final push in a photo finish by a mere 4 thousandth of a second. “This win means a lot to me - and for the entire staff of Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, who often have working days that are much longer than ours”.
Having won two stages in the 2021 edition, this was the third Tour de France stage win for Matej Mohoric. Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS now also has three stage wins on its tally in this year's race. "Seen what has happened in the last month, with all the emotions, this win is for the team and Gino as well. I may not have been the strongest rider out there today, but I made the best of my possibilities and took the right decisions throughout the stage and in the finale”. Two days earlier, Pello Bilbao had followed up on an impressive time trial performance right after the second rest day. Thanks to some strong support from an impressive Jack Haig, he finished the Queen's stage of this year's Tour de France in a strong 3rd place.
All that is left on the way to Paris are Saturday's demanding stage in the Vosges mountains and the mostly ceremonial final stage with its grand finale on the Champs Elysées. As the best-placed rider of Team BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS in the overall standings, Pello Bilbao currently sits in 6th place, and the team moved up to 3rd in the team classification of the Tour de France today.
110TH TOUR DE FRANCE
STAGE 19: MOIRANS-EN-MONTAGNE - POLIGNY, 172.8KM
1. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 3:31.02 hours
2. Kasper Asgreen, DEN, st
3. Ben O’Connor, AUS, + 0.04
STAGE: 17 SAINT-GERVAIS MONT-BLANC - COURCHEVEL, 165.7KM
1. Felix Gall, AUT, in 4:49.08 hours
2. Simon Yates, GBR, + 0.34
3. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 1.38
Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency