First podium results in Mid East

At the beginning of February riders of the Bahrain-McLaren team are competing in the Saudi Tour and the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. In Mid East the team has been racing aggressively in the two initial stages, resulting in 2nd places for Heinrich Haussler and Phil Bauhaus, respectively.

In the month of February, the pro cycling circus moves from the Southern hemisphere and closer to Europe. Team Bahrain-McLaren is making good use of two one-week stage races in Mid East and Spain to fine-tune some of its special teams. As for the Saudi Tour, the team is fielding two strong sprinters with Mark Cavendish and Phil Bauhaus. These two can rely on the support of experienced lead-out riders such as Marcel Sieberg, Heinrich Haussler and Grega Bole. Strong rouleur Jan Tratnik and English neo-pro Fred Wright complete the team’s line-up. The five stages of the Saudi Tour offer plenty of welcome opportunities to further refine the sprint preparations under race conditions. But the ascending finales of the first and the fourth stage may well be won by explosive climbers. 

Throughout the first stage from the Saudi capital of Riyadh to Jaww Team Bahrain-McLaren was one of the most active teams in the race. When the peloton split due to heavy crosswinds the team’s riders managed to stay in the first echelon, saving energy. Heinrich Haussler then made it into a four-man lead group that formed In the finale of the stage. These four riders were still in the lead as they tackled the last steep ramp to the finish line. Haussler showed a strong performance, but with 200 meters to go he was the last attacker to be caught. He still managed to hang on for 2nd place, was rewarded the most attacking rider of the stage and got the jersey for the intermediate sprints. In Haussler’s wake, Phil Bauhaus crossed the finish line in 6th.

For most of the second stage, four riders from second-tier teams were riding in the lead. But despite some crashes, one of them bringing Mark Cavendish down as well, the peloton timed its effort well to catch the group. Cavendish made it back to the peloton, and his teammates paced the peloton after the group had been caught. Heinrich Haussler made good use of two tight turns for a late attack just after the red kite had been passed. Unfortunately, the only rider able to latch onto the wheel of the experienced Australian was Niccolo Bonifazio, a strong sprinter who went on to win the stage. As Haussler faded, Phil Bauhaus surged from the peloton but could not get back to Bonifazio anymore, crossing the finish line in 2nd and moving up to 4th in the overall standings.

For the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Team Bahrain-McLaren fielded an entirely different kind of line-up: With Wout Poels, Dylan Teuns and Pello Bilbao, no less than three riders are serious contenders for a top result in the overall standings. Ivan Garcia Cortina is free to try his hand in the sprints and Matej Mohoric, Scott Davies and Kevin Inkelaar are riding in support of the team leaders. While the overall standings are likely to be shaped in the tough finale of the fourth stage, the first stage came down to the expected bunch sprint. Ivan Garcia Cortina set himself up well with a daring high-speed hop over a curb in a roundabout. From there, he tried to surprise the pure-bred sprinters with a long sprint. The Asturian rider was still in the lead with 50 meters to go, but it was not to be and he crossed the finish line in 9th place.

At the conclusion of Team Bahrain-McLaren’s trip to Australia, Austria’s Marco Haller scored the first top10 result for the newly formed team in a one-day race, finishing the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race in 8th.

1. Rui Costa, POR, in 3:52.12 hours
2. Heinrich Haussler, AUS/TEAM BAHRAIN-MCLAREN, st
3. Nacer Bouhanni, FRA, st

1. Niccolo Bonifazio, ITA, in 4:32.31 hours
2. Phil Bauhaus, GER/TEAM BAHRAIN-MCLARENn, + 0.02
3. Nacer Bouhanni, FRA, st