Pernsteiner shows his class in Romandie

At the Tour de Romandie, Sonny Colbrelli missed out on a stage win narrowly by finishing in 2nd twice while Ion Izagirre finished in 11th in the overall standings, just outside the top10. Hermann Pernsteiner, on the other hand, was the positive surprise from the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM’s perspective, finishing in 14th in the overall standings.

With a demanding prologue and five stages, including an uphill time trial over a distance of almost ten kilometers, the 72nd edition of the Tour de Romandie featured a lot of challenges for the riders. For this stage race in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM fielded the brothers Ion and Gorka Izagirre as its designated leaders for the overall standings. Enrico Gasparotto and Hermann Pernsteiner served as their support in the mountains, and Ramunas Navardauskas and Kristijan Koren were in charge to close gaps and reel in attackers so Sonny Colbrelli as the team’s sprinter could have a shot at stage wins in the two stages that looked well-suited for the fast men. With a lot of turns, fast sections, some cobblestones and a hard climb to the finish line the prologue in the streets of Fribourg was a challenging start. Gorka Izagirre finished in 10th, conceding 9 seconds to the fastest time of the day over these four kilometers. Ion Izagirre was six seconds slower, finishing in 21st.

The first stage led from Fribourg through the Jura region to Delémont. As the finishing circuit that featured two hard climbs had to be ridden twice, a bunch sprint seemed unlikely. But the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM delivered a great performance, getting back to the day’s attackers well in time and dropping some strong sprinters while keeping Sonny Colbrelli well protected. But on the short and ascending finish straight in Delémont he lacked the necessary explosiveness to beat Omar Fraile in the race to the line. On the next day, the profile of the stage finishing in Yverdon-les-bains looked much more promising for sprinters. But Belgium’s breakaway specialist Thomas de Gendt had different plans: He attacked right from the start, got away with some strong rouleurs and built a lead that maxed out at more than seven minutes. From there, the riders in red. gold and dark blue took charge of pacing the peloton, but it was already too late. De Gendt rode to a solo win, with Sonny Colbrelli easily winning the bunch sprint for 2nd about two minutes later.

As for the overall standings of the race the uphill time trial from Ollon to Villars and the Queen’s stage around Sion looked to be decisive. As for the test against the clock, the riders of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM could not keep up with the pace of their fastest opponents: Ion Izagirre finished the stage in 11th, conceding 1min45 to the day’s winner with his brother Gorka losing more than three minutes. The positive surprise came from Hermann Pernsteiner who rode a strong time trial and finished in 20th. The 27-year-old Austrian continued to impress the next day, making it into the move of the day and dropping back to support his captain Ion Izagirre who had attacked further back on the road before the last categorized climb of the day. But on this climb, Primoz Roglic and Egan Bernal cemented their status as the best climbers in the race. Ion Izagirre crossed the finish line just a bit over two minutes after the day’s stage winner, riding in the same group as Pernsteiner and Gorka Izagirre. While Ion Izagirre narrowly slipped out of the top10 in the overall standings, Hermann Pernsteiner moved up from 20th to 14th.

On the last day of racing, these overall standings did not see any changes anymore. At first, a lead group consisting of five riders set the pace on the way to Geneva. This group was caught with about ten kilometers to go, and another attack from Australian William Clarke was neutralized swiftly by a concerted effort of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM and the Bora-Hansgrohe Team. Things looked very promising for Sonny Colbrelli until a couple of riders started their sprint just before a right-hand corner on the final kilometer. The Italian was boxed in at the right side of the street, finding no way through traffic to accelerate and follow the right wheels. Thus he could not compete for the stage win, having to settle for 6th instead. In the points classification, Colbrelli finished the Tour de Romandie in 4th, and so did the team in the team classification.


1. Omar Fraile, ESP, in 4:03.42 hours
3. Rui Costa, POR, st

1. Thomas de Gendt, BEL, in 4:03.05 hours
2. Sonny Colbrelli,  ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, + 2.04
3. Samuel Dumoulin, FRA, st