Second stage win for Matej Mohoric
Two days before the Tour de France concludes, everybody was expecting a bunch sprint to decide the stage. Instead, a large breakaway of 20 riders contested for the win, and Matej Mohoric turned out to have the best odds on his side: Team Bahrain Victorious’s Slovenian national champion surprised his rivals with an acceleration with 25 kilometres to go and rode to his second stage win in the race on his own.
With just one cat4 climb and a prediction of headwind that was supposed to pick up throughout the day, the 19th stage of the 108th Tour de France looked to be set to end in a bunch sprint. But as it turned out too many teams were still without any success in this stage race and hungry, and this showed right from the start. While the attacks were flying at the sharp end of the peloton, a large pile-up forced many riders down to the ground further back. When five riders managed to go clear, Matej Mohoric decided to give it a go. It did not take Team Bahrain Victorious’s Slovenian national champion long to bridge the gap to the leaders where he convinced the other five riders to go as fast as possible in order to stay out of the grasp of the peloton. About 40 kilometres into the stage, another pile-up forced Sonny Colbrelli to the ground. Luckily the Italian national champion could continue, and despite some considerable pain in his left knee he managed to win some more points at the intermediate sprint by crossing the line as the 2nd rider from the peloton.
With about 80 kilometres covered in the stage, the race situation changed drastically however as about 20 riders left the peloton behind. For about 40 minutes a fascinating tug of war developed between the early attackers, the group of counterattackers and the peloton. But when the two groups up front merged and the cooperation in the peloton was less than ideal, the gap opened up quickly. Five riders dropped back to the peloton while Matej Mohoric found himself in a much bigger breakaway with some seriously fast sprinters. While the gap between the peloton and the breakaway quickly grew to 10 minutes and more, the riders in the breakaway braced for a frantic finale: One attack followed another, and gaps needed to be shut down repeatedly. On an unclassified climb with 35 kilometres to go, Matej Mohoric had to go deep not to get dropped and was lucky that the fastest riders did not trust each other, allowing him to get back to them. But this difficult moment had made it clear to Mohoric that his energy was not without limits.
With 25 kilometres to go, Mohoric went all-in, changed to the biggest gear and left his rivals behind - first by a scant 20 meters, then by 10 seconds, then by 20 seconds. Again there was no real cohesion with the chasers, so Mohoric managed to expand his lead to 45 seconds with 15 kilometres to go and keep that margin at the 10 kilometres to go sign. From there, Matej Mohoric kept grinding the biggest gear on his Reaco, slightly expanding his lead and finally getting to enjoy the final kilometre of this 19th stage to the full. With his solo stage win, the Slovenian national champion gave the best possible answer to the polemics surrounding Team Bahrain Victorious throughout the last two days. And of course, this stage win also comes as a welcome solace and compensation for stage 16 when Sonny Colbrelli missed out on a stage win narrowly in 2nd place and for stage 18 when Wout Poels lost the polka dot jersey for the best climber in the last mountain stage and at the last moment possible.
The second stage win for Matej Mohoric and the third stage win for the team at this Tour de France was not the only reason to celebrate for Team Bahrain Victorious on this Friday. At the end of the third stage of the Settimana Ciclistica Italiana, a new race on the island of Sardegna consisting of five stages in total, young Jonathan Milan was only beaten by Pascal Ackermann in the bunch sprint. With this 2nd place, Milan showed that he’s not just an excellent track cyclist and a rouleur who knows how to ride fast but also a very promising sprinter in his own right.
108TH TOUR DE FRANCE, STAGE 19: MOURENX - LIBOURNE, 207KM
1. Matej Mohoric, SLO/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:19.17 hours
2. Christophe Laporte, FRA, + 0.58
3.Casper Pedersen, DEN, st
TEAM CLASSIFICATION AFTER 19 STAGES:
1. TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, BAH, in 239:22.04 hours
2. EF Education - Nippo, USA, + 23.25
3. Team Jumbo-Visma, NED, + 1:15.32
SETTIMANA CICILISTICA ITALIANA, SARDEGNA
STAGE 3: ORISTANO - CAGLIARI, 180.9KM
1. Pascal Ackermann, GER
2. Jonathan Milan, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
3. Rudy Barbier, FRA, st