Two podium results in the second Tour week
At the Tour de France, the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious have been enjoying the last rest day before the third week of this Grand Tour. Since a good result in the general classification is way out of reach, the riders in red, orange and black are free to chase stage wins. Last week they missed out narrowly with a 2nd and a 3rd place in two different stages.
As for the opening stages in Denmark and the frantic stage 4 finishing in Dunkirk, Team Bahrain Victorious managed to keep its GC co-captains Damiano Caruso and Jack Haig out of trouble. But then bad luck struck hard in stage 5: Even before the race hit the treacherous cobblestones on the way to Arenberg, Jack Haig was brought down by a loose hay bale that blocked his way when exiting one of the many roundabouts. Sadly the Australian injured his right elbow seriously in this crash and was forced to abandon the race as a consequence. Thus Damiano Caruso was the team’s sole protected rider for the overall standings. But the experienced Italian lost almost half an hour in the epic stage that finished atop the Col du Granon.
With this time loss, all ambitions of Team Bahrain Victorious for a good result in the overall standings were gone. And this showed in the way the team raced. In the Alpine stage finishing in Megève right after the second rest day, Luis Leon Sanchez crossed the finish line in 3rd, missing out on the stage win by a scant seven seconds after a long day in the breakaway. Fred Wright got even closer to that elusive stage win at the end of stage 13: the three strongest riders of a seven-man breakaway sprinted for the win in St.Etienne, and the young Englishman was only beaten by former World champion Mads Pedersen to cross the line in 2nd, showing that he’s got a mean sprint.
Apart from a long individual time trial and the final, mostly flat stage to Paris, the third week of the Tour de France serves up two hard mountaintop finishes in the Pyrenees and two stages with a demanding, hilly profile. Adding to the difficulty is the brutal heat that is currently scorching the Southwest of France. Still this third week offers up some opportunities for the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious to get that elusive stage win and to at least reach the minimum goal of the team management.