Successful test of form for Vincenzo Nibali
After five stages, Vincenzo Nibali finished the Tour of the Alps in 3rd in the overall standings - a highly deserved reward for active racing from the entire BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM. At the same time, Chun-kai Feng won a Silver medal in the individual time trial at the Asian cycling championships.
Before the 43rd edition of the Tour of the Alps that was leading from Kufstein to Bolzano got to a start, all eyes were on Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali. The latter returned to racing after a lengthy altitude training camp on Tenerife, intending to test his form in view of the Giro d’Italia - the next big target in his race calendar. Featuring an abundance of climbs, the five stages of the Tour of the Alps offered plenty of opportunities to do so. As the protected captain of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, Vincenzo Nibali could rely on the support of Valerio Agnoli, Andrea Garosio, Antonio Nibali, Hermann Pernsteiner and Meiyin Wang. And Vincenzo Nibali did not lose any time to show that his condition was very good, attacking on the final ascent of the first stage. But due to a lack of cooperation, the small group that had formed got caught and twenty-one riders sprinted for the first stage win in Kufstein.
The second day saw a group of attackers from smaller teams ride in the front for much of the stage. With twelve kilometres to go, four riders jumped away from the group of favourites, and nobody could match the power of Pavel Sivakov on the final, steep ramps to Scena. After having attacked in the finale, Hermann Pernsteiner crossed the finish line in 5th, right ahead of Vincenzo Nibali. After these two stages, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM tried to surprise Team Sky with a different strategy: Antonio Nibali was sent into the early group of the day. With seven kilometres to go, it was up to Pernsteiner to attack, and for a short moment, Antonio Nibali could give his teammate a helping hand. But Pernsteiner was caught as well, so Vincenzo Nibali attacked repeatedly without getting away from his main rivals. Having spent his energies before the sprint for the stage win, he had to settle for fourth place.
The fourth stage saw another change in strategy from the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM: This time it held the pace high in the main group, thinning it our climb after climb. Vincenzo Nibali attacked a first time on the Predaia pass, but again he could not drop his main rivals: Neither Pavel Sivakov nor Tao Geoghegan Hart or Rafal Majka lost contact despite Nibali following up with half a dozen more attacks. As for the sprint for the stage win in Cles, Nibali was only beaten by Hart. Before the conclusive stage, Vincenzo Nibali was a mere 33 seconds behind the overall leader. Throughout the final hour of racing, the Shark of Messina repeatedly attacked without being able to distance the Team Sky duo of Sivakov and Hart. But since Majka had been dropped on the final ascent, Vincenzo Nibali managed to move up into 3rd place in the overall standings, finishing on the podium.
The team scored another podium result at the Asian cycling championships held in Uzbekistan this year: In the individual time trial, Chun-kai Feng was only beaten by Kazakh Daniil Fominykh by twelve seconds. Thus the Taiwanese rider could celebrate winning a silver medal. As for the semi-classic Flèche Wallonne, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM showed an active race without being rewarded for that effort. At first Damiano Caruso infiltrated a counter-attack chasing the early leaders, and then Dylan Teuns was part of a strong group that got away from the peloton after the penultimate passage of the Mur de Huy. Finally, it was Matej Mohoric who chased down a solo attack, but the duo got caught on the second-to-last climb of the day, so it all came down to an uphill sprint on the Mur de Huy. For much of this iconic climb, Dylan Teuns was riding in the top5 positions, but in the end, he had to settle for 14th.
43RD TOUR OF THE ALPS
STAGE 4: BASELGA DI PINÈ - CLES, 134KM
1. Tao Geoghegan Hart, GBR, in 3:26.32 hours
2. Vincenzo Nibali, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, st
3. Rafal Majka, POL, st
1. Pavel Sivkov, RUS, in 18:58.00 hours
2. Tao Geoghegan Hart, GBR, + 0.27
3. Vincenzo Nibali, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, + 0.33
ASIAN CYCLING CHAMPIONSHIPS 2019: INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL, ELITE MEN, 40KM
1. Daniil Fominykh, KAZ, in 49.42 minutes
2. Chun-kai Feng, TWN/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, + 0.12
3. King-lok Cheung, HKG, + 1.18