Sonny Colbrelli wins solo in Houffalize
After two 2nd places by Phil Bauhaus und Sonny Colbrelli, Team Bahrain Victorious made good use of the penultimate stage of the Benelux Tour for a full-scale attack on the overall standings. The result was a one-two as Sonny Colbrelli celebrated a solo win in Houffalize and took over the lead in the general classification while Matej Mohoric won the sprint for 2nd. At the Vuelta a España, Jack Haig moved into 3rd in the overall and Gino Mäder has snatched the White jersey from Egan Bernal’s shoulders.
Team Bahrain Victorious and Matej Mohoric in particular have some fond memories of the Benelux Tour: Three years ago, the Slovenian national champion won the overall of this stage race that ran under the name Eneco Tour in 2018. For this year's edition, Team Bahrain Victorious lined up a strong team with Matej Mohoric as the designated captain for the general classification and Phil Bauhaus and Sonny Colbrelli hunting for stage wins. Riding in their support were the massively experienced Heinrich Haussler and Marcel Sieberg and the two young talents Fred Wright and Jonathan Milan. At the end of the opening stage, Phil Bauhaus was only beaten by Tim Merlier in a bunch sprint. And at the end of the fifth stage Sonny Colbrelli also sprinted to a 2nd place behind Caleb Ewan. Add to this two more top10 results for Phil Bauhaus.
The penultimate stage was leading through the Ardennes to Houffalize, and the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious were in an attacking mood. At first two early attackers rode in the race lead, building a gap of more than 7 minutes. Team Bahrain Victorious did its share in the chase, and with 50 kilometers to go and the least early attacker within reach, Matej Mohoric unleashed a series of attacks - and only Marc Hirschi and Sonny Colbrelli managed to stay on his wheel. When the chasers had almost brought back these three riders, Mohoric accelerated one more time and Sonny Colbrelli used this as a launch pad for his own attack. The sprinter got away on his own, grabbed the maximum bonifications at the Golden kilometer sprints and won the stage solo with an advantage of 42 seconds. That was enough to move into the overall lead before the final stage. And since Matej Mohoric won the sprint of the chasing group, it was even a one-two for the riders in Red and Black.
At the Vuelta a España, Team Bahrain Victorious has been showing strong performances throughout the third week despite losing Mikel Landa. As a consequence the team leads in the team classification. The help of Mark Padun and Gino Mäder was particularly precious, and thanks to their efforts Jack Haig moved up from 6th to 4th in the overall standings. Then came the penultimate stage that had serious consequences for the overall standings. At first a large breakaway went up the road, and Mark Padun was part of it. When Egan Bernal attacked with 58 kilometers to go, he ran into a counter by half a dozen riders who dropped him and Miguel Angel Lopez right away. While Bernal and Lopez were losing time quickly, Gino Mäder and Jack Haig kept the pace up and Mark Padun dropped back from the fragmented breakaway to join this effort. This was well worth it as Jack Haig managed to move up to 3rd in the general classification before the conclusive individual time trial. Gino Mäder follows in 5th, but more importantly he took over the White jersey for the best young rider from Bernal.
17TH BENELUX TOUR, STAGE 6: OTTIGNIES-LOUVAN-LA-NEUVE - HOUFFALIZE, 207.6KM
1. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:55.27 hours
2. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.42
3. Jasper Stuyven, BEL, st
STAGE 1: SURHUISTERVEEN - DOKKUM, 169.6KM
1. Tim Merlier, BEL, in 3:32.20 hours
2. Phil Bauhaus, GER/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
3. Alvaro José Hodeg, COL, st
STAGE 5: RIEMST - BILZEN, 192KM
1. Caleb Ewan, AUS, in 4:26.24 hours
2. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
3. Danny van Poppel, NED, st
OVERALL STANDINGS BEFORE THE FINAL STAGE:
1. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 20:23.30 hours
2. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.51
3. Victor Campenaerts, BEL, + 0.53