5 Feb 2024

Team Bahrain Victorious shines in Spain

At the Valenciana stage race Team Bahrain Victorious backed up Matej Mohoric’s stage win with more strong performances. Santiago Buitrago climbed to a 2nd place in the Queen’s stage, and Pello Bilbao followed in 4th. On the last day Mohoric added a 5th place to the tally. With one stage win and wins in the young rider and team classification, the race in Spain was a full success.

One day after Matej Mohoric’s stage win the sprinters got a rare opportunity at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. After a thrilling finale the day’s break was only brought back on the penultimate kilometer. From there the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious stayed out of trouble and did not contest the sprint, preferring to save their legs for the Queen’s stage of the race. This served up more than 3500 meters of climbing, but due to medical emergency at the finish area the stage got shortened by 15 kilometers, finishing atop the steep Col de Miserat. When the race hit the steepest ramps Santiago Buitrago managed to match the pace of Brandon McNulty and Aleksandr Vlasov. And in the end the young Colombian only had to let McNulty go up the road, finishing the stage in 2nd. This also moved him into 2nd on GC and extended his lead in the young riders classification considerably.

Since Pello Bilbao finished the Queen’s stage in 4th and Rainer Kepplinger added a strong 7th place, Team Bahrain Victorious also moved into the lead of the team classification, so for the conclusive stage the stakes were high. On the La Frontera climb as the day’s main obstacle, Pello Bilbao launched one attack from the group of chasers only to be brought back soon after. Soon after the long descent towards the valley had started, an attack by Matej Mohoric was brought back as well. On the last 30 kilometers of the Valenciana stage race, the group of GC contenders was chasing the last remaining rider from the days’ breakaway as more and more riders managed to get back to that group, adding to its pace. Still Will Barta held on bravely and managed to win the final stage by a margin of 8 seconds. Matej Mohoric tried his hand at the sprint for 2nd and crossed the line in 5th.

As for the last two days of the Al Ula Tour, Team Bahrain Victorious did not score a top10 result anymore. On the penultimate day Dusan Rajovic did not find a way in the twists and turns of the last kilometer to compete in the bunch sprint, and Fred Wright also conceded 12 seconds as gaps opened up in the peloton. Thus the reigning British road champion dropped out of the top10 on GC. On the last day Wright could not match the pace of the best climbers on the way to Skyviews of Harrat Uwayrid. The Englishman finished the stage in 11th, 34 seconds adrift of the day’s winner Simon Yates. Fred Wright finished the race in 14th on GC and in 5th in the young riders classification. 

1. Brandon McNulty, USA, in 4:08.21 hours
2. Santiago Buitrago, COL/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.12 
3. Aleksandr Vlasov, RUS, st

1. Brandon McNulty, USA, in 17:52.34 hours
2. Santiago Buitrago, COL/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.14 
3. Aleksandr Vlasov, RUS, + 0.17

1. Santiago Buitrago, COL/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 17:52.48 hours
2. Javier Romo, ESP, + 0.43
3. Welay Hagos Berhe, ETH, + 0.44

1. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BHR, in 53:39.19 hours
2. UAE Team Emirates, UAE, + 0.34 
3. Bora Hansgrohe, GER, + 0.39

1. Jonathan Milan, ITA, 57 points
2. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, 46 points
3. Filippo Fiorelli, ITA, 38 points

Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency