Mikel Landa 2nd at his debut
For the Ruta Ciclista del Sol, Team Bahrain-McLaren is fielding a strong team in support of Basque rider Mikel Landa. The latter is living up to all the expectations, finishing the first and demanding stage in 2nd. With Dylan Teuns in 3rd and Pello Bilbao in 5th, the team delivered a very strong performance.
After a short break from racing where only young Colombian Santiago Buitrago has been competing for his national team in the Tour of Colombia, Team Bahrain-McLaren resumed its race calendar at the Ruta Ciclista del Sol in the Southern Spanish region of Andalucia. While the fifth and conclusive stage is an individual time trial, the race features plenty of climbs before. Team Bahrain-McLaren is fielding a strong selection of riders with Mikel Landa as the designated captain and Dylan Teuns and Pello Bilbao as back-ups. As for the less demanding stages, Sonny Colbrelli is a candidate to win in a sprint. Damiano Caruso, Matej Mohoric and Mark Padun are riding in support of these riders.The latter has been brought in as a replacement for Ivan Garcia Cortina who could not start due to having suffered from a flu last week.
The first stage of the Ruta Ciclista del Sol already promised to give the overall standings some shape. After all the category 1 Puerto de las Palomas climb was waiting in the finale and the tough last kilometer to the finish line featured cobble stones, corners and some steep ramps. The group of the day disintegrated on the way to the final categorized climb. Just when the last remnants got mopped up Loïc Vliegen attacked, attempting to solo to the finish line. But the quickly shrinking group of favourites would not grant the Belgian more than 20 seconds of advantage. With 10 kilometers to go Vliegen was about to be caught, and this was the moment when Mikel Landa attacked hard - in his trademark style, out of the saddle and grabbing the handlebars in the drops. The only rider who was capable of getting to the wheel of Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Basque climber was Jakob Fuglsang.
On the way to the summit of the Puerto de las Palomas, the duo extended its lead to 50 seconds. In their wake Landa’s team mates Dylan Teuns and Pello Bilbao could save precious energy. The advantage of Fuglsang and Landa grew to a minute on the descent towards the finish, but on the last kilometer the two were constantly marking each other and their speed dropped as a consequence. On the last steep ramp to the finish line Mikel Landa could not best the more explosive Fuglsang. But by finishing in 2nd in his first race in the jersey of Team Bahrain-McLaren, he still delivered a brilliant debut. Thanks to a strong finale in the alleys of Grazalema, Dylan Teuns managed to join his team captain on the podium by finishing in 3rd, and Pello Bilbao capped off the great team result with a 5th place. At the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Team Bahrain-McLaren had already won the team classification by a seizable margin.
66TH VUELTA A ANDALUCÍA - RUTA CICLISTA DEL SOL
STAGE 1: ALHAURIN DE LA TORRE - GRAZALEMA, 173.8KM
1. Jakob Fuglesang, DEN, in 4:11.08 hours
2. Mikel Landa, ESP/Team Bahrain-McLaren, + 0.06
3. Dylan Teuns, BEL/Team Bahrain-McLaren, + 0.25