May 5, 2019

Podium result for Sonny Colbrelli in Morges

After Jan Tratnik’s win in the prologue, Sonny Colbrelli scored another top3 result for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM by finishing the second stage of the Tour de Romandie in 3rd.

After Jan Tratnik had surprised himself by winning the prologue of the Tour de Romandie, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM intended to defend the leader’s jersey. But with no less than five category 2 climbs, hardly a flat section and 3400 vertical meters of ascending, the profile of the first Jura stage proved to be too demanding. When the overall contenders started to attack each other in the finale, Jan Tratnik lost contact with about 26 kilometers to go. Sonny Colbrelli on the other hand showed enormous force of will: He managed to fight his way back into the group of overall contenders twice only to get dropped on an unclassified but hard climb with eleven kilometers to go. Thus the riders in red, gold and dark blue were out of contention for the sprint in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and the leader’s jersey changed from Jan Tratnik to his compatriot Primoz Roglic who also won the first stage.

As the second stage of the Tour de Romandie looked less demanding on paper, the sprinters and their teams had marked this stage as their main opportunity. But two factors changed the equation to their disadvantage: First of all it hardly stopped raining from start to finish, and second a group with strong riders went clear early on in the stage. When the peloton had managed to bring the advantage of the lead group down to one and a half minutes, Swiss time trial specialist Stefan Küng attacked from that group - and masterfully stayed up front, winning the stage solo with an advantage of almost one minute. As for the sprint of the bunch, Sonny Colbrelli faced strong competition but only was beaten by Sam Bennett, thus finishing the stage in 3rd. BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM’s joy of yet another podium result was tainted by a crash that forced Chun-kai Feng to abandon the race. Luckily the check-up in the hospital did not show any broken bones.

The third stage started and finished in Romont, and the finale served up a ramp of one kilometre with a gradient of eight percent. But Sonny Colbrelli has shown in the past that he can match the pace of his strongest rivals on such a climb with the finish line in his sight. At first it was Jan Tratnik who was flying the colours of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, however, being part of the lead group of the day. These six riders were only caught with eighteen kilometers to go, and Sonny Colbrelli was the only real sprinter to keep his position in the group of overall contenders. On the final ascent to Romont Colbrelli looked strong, keeping himself in the top10. but with 400 meters to go Gianluca Brambilla rode into a sign post and brought Colbrelli down. Thus the dream of winning a stage came to an abrupt end despite a courageous performance.

Apart from the Tour de Romandie, the one-day race Radklassiker Eschborn-Frankfurt was raced as well, and the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM fielded a strong team: Phil Bauhaus was the designated sprinter while Matej Mohoric was free to chase his own ambitions and join attacks. But soon enough Bauhaus felt that he was not at his best and could not keep up with the strongest rivals. So the team switched to another strategy: In the last hour of racing Matej Mohoric made good use of a twisting descent to jump from the peloton to the lead group. This group only got caught with a few kilometers to go. And still Mohoric had enough left in his tank to try his hand in the bunch sprint, crossing the finish line in 11th right behind his teammate Grega Bole who finished the race in 10th.

1. Stefan Küng, SUI. in 4:10.59 hours
2. Sam Bennett, IRL, + 0.59