May 17, 2019

First pro win for Ivan Cortina in California

After having scored podium results at the Vuelta a España and Paris-Nice, BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM’s Ivan Cortina got to celebrate his first pro win at the end of the 5th stage of the Tour of California.

For the first time ever the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM sent a selection of six riders to the Tour of California as the only World Tour stage race held in the United States. Phil Bauhaus sprinted to two top10 finishes in those two early stages that were decided in bunch sprints with an 8th and a 7th place, both Rohan Dennis and Hermann Pernsteiner lost a bit of time to the strongest overall contenders in the more mountainous stages. With an overall distance of 218.5 kiometers, stage 5 leading from Pismo Beach to Ventura was not just a long ride, but also too demanding for pure sprinters. As a consequence, some sprinters tried their luck by joining a strong lead group that never got more than two and a half minutes advantage from the peloton. In this peloton the riders in red, gold and dark blue took over the responsibility to keep the group in check: Marcel Sieberg, Heinrich Haussler and Hermann Pernsteiner kept the speed up to make sure that the early attackers could be caught in the finale. And at first the gap between the lead group and the peloton came down as planned on the way to the finish in Ventura.

But then Tim Declerq as one of the biggest engines of that lead group decided to give it one last go, attacking on his own. But the final, tough climb into Ventura proved to be too much for the tall Belgian, and the following counter attacks from the likes of Zdenek Stybar, Rigoberto Uran and George Bennett got neutralized as well. On the other hand Ivan Cortina gave two hundred percents to keep himself in contention, supported by BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM. He made it over the final climb, avoided any mistakes in the ensuing, twisting and technical descent to and kept his cool on the finish straight. With a perfect timing, he got out of the slip stream of Argentina’s Max Richeze as late as possible and put two bike lengths between him and his closest rival in the sprint. Thus the 23 sear-old from the Asturias region got to celebrate his first pro win in Ventura, having already missed out on a victory narrowly last fall and this spring repeatedly. Seen Ivan Cortina’s qualities this is likely a first win of many more to come. For his team it was the third victory of the season and the second in the World Tour after Jan Tratnik’s win in the prologue of the Tour de Romandie.

As for the 102nd edition of the Giro d’Italia, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM has managed to protect Vincenzo Nibali perfectly thus far. Throughout a first week that saw a lot of rainy and cold days, the riders in red, gold and dark blue were often seen riding in the front of the pack in the finale in order to keep its captain out of harm’s way and crashes. This worked out as planned. Even when a crash far up front in the peloton brough down many overall contenders at the end of the 4th stage, Vincenzo Nibali managed to stay upright. Still he could not avoid losing 16 seconds to Primoz Roglic. Thanks to a very strong performance in the opening time trial in Bologna where Vincenzo Nibali surprised friend and foe by finishing in 3rd and leaving a lot of strong time trialists behind, the captain of the team is perfectly on schedule to contend for one of the podium spots in this year’s Giro d’Italia.

1. Ivan Cortina, ESP/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 4:56.11 hours

2. Max Richeze, ARG, st
3. Sergio Higuita, COL, st

1. Primoz Roglic, SVN, in 12.54 minutes
2. Simon Yates, GBR, + 0.19