9 Feb 2020

Phil Bauhaus tops off strong team effort

In the conclusive stage of the Saudi Tour Team Bahrain-McLaren managed to turn the overall standings around one more time. The team made sure that the day’s attackers were caught in time and showed a perfect lead-out for its sprinter Phil Bauhaus. The German won a hard sprint against Nacer Bouhanni and also secured the overall victory. On the same day, Wout Poels finished the Queen’s stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in 2nd place.

After having won the third stage of the Saudi Tour, Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Phil Bauhaus went into the Queen’s stage wearing the dark green jersey of the overall leader. Since the stage featured two tough climbs with the second cresting just 20 kilometres from the finish, the team knew that there would be attacks from strong climbers - with Rui Costa being the main threat. And indeed the team of the Portuguese rider set a fast pace on the first climb. Team Bahrain-McLaren rode at its own pace, keeping the gap under control and getting back to the fastest climbers before the second selective ascent of the day. Just when the race got to the foot of that climb, Phil Bauhaus suffered an utterly untimely flat tire.

From there every single rider of the team gave his best to get Phil Bauhaus back to the race leaders on the remaining 20 kilometres of the stage. The fact that the peloton had splintered into three echelons did not make things any easier. But thanks to Team Bahrain-McLaren’s enormous collective effort and some bad luck for Rui Costa who lost his key domestique due to a crash the gap of almost one and a half minutes could be closed and Costa was caught with 3 kilometres to go. As for the bunch sprint, Phil Bauhaus had run out of steam, and as a consequence, he had to hand over the leader’s jersey to stage winner Nacer Bouhanni. With only 2 seconds separating these two riders, the overall win was still within reach, however.

Team Bahrain-McLaren protected its leader throughout the entire conclusive stage, making sure he was not getting involved in any of the many crashes that occurred. Due to these crashes the early attackers managed to stay away longer than expected, snatching the bonifications at the intermediate sprint. Due to this, Phil Bauhaus had to win the stage in order to win the overall standings. What followed was another blistering display of power from the papaya, red, blue and black sprint train that had already launched the team’s sprinters to a stage win and a 2nd place. At first Marcel Sieberg kept the speed up until the red kite, then Heinrich Haussler took over, setting the pace until the 500 meters to go sign. From there, Mark Cavendish wound up the pace even further, leading Phil Bauhaus onto the finishing straight.

From Cavendish’s wheel, Bauhaus accelerated hard with 200 meters to go, and from there, its was an argy-bargy sprint to the line against Nacer Bouhanni. The German sprinter stayed in the lead to win his second stage in the Saudi Tour and also the overall standings. «After losing the leader’s jersey in the Queen’s stage, we had to go all-in. The team’s sprint train worked flawlessly again today, and it’s a real honour to see such big names leading me out in a sprint. Day by day Team Bahrain-McLaren was one of the strongest teams within the Saudi Tour, and the win in the overall standings is a well-deserved reward for this strong collective effort.» Bauhaus added a 2nd place in the points standings of the Saudi Tour to his tally as well.

At the end of the third stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana Matej Mohoric surprised everyone and most likely also himself. Team Bahrain-McLaren Slovenian rider infiltrated the sprint preparations of other teams and accelerated from the wheel of Luka Mezgec. In the frantic dash to the line in Torrevieja he was only beaten by Dylan Groenewegen and Fabio Jakobsen, scoring a strong 3rd place. Due to its demanding profile and the brutally steep final ascent over 5 kilometres to Sierra de Bernia, the fourth stage of the race was generally considered the Queen’s stage. With Dylan Teuns, Wout Poels and Pello Bilbao Team Bahrain-McLaren had no less than three contenders for this finale. Due to this strength in numbers, the team also had a chance to push for a decision in the team classification.

As soon as the race was on, Team Bahrain-McLaren left nothing to chance: Pello Bilbao managed to get into the lead group of the day that shrank to four riders at the foot of the final ascent. These riders tackled the climb with an advantage of about 30 seconds, but they were caught with 2.5 kilometers to go. Tadej Pogacar attacked right away and powered on to a solo win. In the wake of Slovenia’s young prodigy, it was a head-to-head battle on the steepest slopes of the climb. After a tough fight with Daniel Martin, Wout Poels managed to secure 2nd place on the day with Dylan Teuns finishing the Queen’s stage in 6th. And thanks to a brave effort of Pello Bilbao who still managed to finish in 19th, Team Bahrain-McLaren extended its lead in the team classification by almost three minutes.

1. Phil Bauhaus, GER/Team Bahrain-McLaren, in 3:18.57 hours
2. Nacer Bouhanni, FRA, st
3. Arvid de Kleijn, NED, st

1. Phil Bauhaus, GER/Team Bahrain-McLaren, in 17:53.38 hours
2. Nacer Bouhanni, FRA, + 0.02
3. Rui Costa, POR, + 0.13

1. Dylan Groenewegen, NED, in 3:54.16 hours
2. Fabio Jakobsen, NED, st
3. Matej Mohoric, SVN/Team Bahrain-McLaren, st

1. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, in 4:22.03 hours
2. Wout Poels, NED/Team Bahrain-McLaren, + 0.06
3. Tao Geoghegan Hart, GBR, st