Strong performances from Mohoric, Colbrelli
Throughout the last eight days, the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious may have missed out on the second win of the season. Still, Matej Mohoric at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and Sonny Colbrelli at the semi-classic Gent-Wevelgem managed to score some precious top5 results.
For the 100th edition of the Volta a Catalunya Team Bahrain Victorious fielded a team with ambitions for top results in stages and in the young riders’ classification. As for the overall standings Hermann Pernsteiner was the designated captain while Colombian Santiago Buitrago was aiming at the young riders’ classification. Matej Mohoric was free to chase stage victories as he liked whereas Wout Poels was looking to rebuild his form and log some kilometres in Catalunya following a knee injury. Filling in the assisting roles in the team were Domen Novak and Steven Williams. As for the first stage of the race, four riders managed to catch the peloton on the wrong foot and stay away, leaving the bunch sprinting for 5th. As the runner-up in this sprint, Matej Mohoric crossed the finish line in 6th. As for the individual time trial on the second day and the first mountain top finish on the third day, the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious failed to ride themselves into the spotlights. At the second mountain top finish atop Port Ainé however, Santiago Buitrago showed what he’s worth in the mountains by finishing in 20th place.
As for the remaining three stages in hilly terrain, Matej Mohoric was the rider to attack. At the end of the 5th stage, this was rewarded by another 6th place. The day after the lead group that Mohoric was riding in got caught with less than 20 kilometres to go, and the stage was decided in a bunch sprint. At least Mohoric got rewarded for his aggressive riding by the race jury who gave him the price for the most attacking rider of the day - not exactly what he had been looking for after a long day at the sharp end of the race. But Matej Mohoric kept trying, and this was rewarded on the final say: He attacked from a group of about 30 riders with Thomas De Gendt and only had to let the Belgian strongman go when the latter attacked on the steepest ramps of the Montjuic climb with 5 kilometres to go. From there, Matej Mohoric managed to secure his 2nd place in the stage - a precious top3 result. With Santiago Buitrago in 5th place in the young riders’ classification, Team Bahrain Victorious scored another success in Catalunya.
In cycling, spring is the time of Classics, semi-classics and monuments, and the first of cycling’s monuments on the race calendar was Milano-Sanremo. As so often the decision in this long race came down to the finale with the Cipressa and Poggio climbs. With Sonny Colbrelli and Matej Mohoric, two riders of Team Bahrain Victorious crested the last ascent of the race in the first group on the road. But just as all others they were caught by surprise by the attack of Jasper Stuyven. On the finish line, Sonny Colbrelli had to settle for 8th place with Matej Mohoric following suit in 11th. Four days later about 60 riders headed into the decisive sprint at the Brugge - De Panne semi-classic after a hard and windy day in Belgium. Just like many other riders, Sonny Colbrelli saw his sprint ruined when Frenchman Arnaud Démare almost crashed in the heat of the sprint. As a consequence Colbrelli only crossed the finish line in 16th place.
Only two days later, the next Belgian semi-classic was raced around the town of Harelbeke with the E3 Saxo Bank Classic. This race’s course features a decent amount of cobblestone sectors and steep ramps. Early on a strong group formed in the race lead and Marco Haller and Jonathan Milan were flying the flag of Team Bahrain Victorious. Both the experienced Austrian and the young Italian showed a strong race, and Haller capped his performance off with a 10th place on the day. Another two days later, the semi-classic Gent-Wevelgem served up gravel roads, cobblestone sectors and climbs known from the Ronde. The first decisive moment of this race came with a whopping 180 kilometres to go when crosswinds split the peloton into various groups. Sonny Colbrelli sensed the danger and got onto the right wheels to stay in the first group on the road. Riding a strong race, Colbrelli kept himself in this group that shrank in size as the finish line got closer. In the end, seven riders contested the sprint, with Sonny Colbrelli finishing in 4th.
100TH VUELTA CYCLISTA A CATALUNYA
STAGE 7, BARCELONA - BARCELONA, 133KM
1. Thomas De Gendt, BEL, in 3:06.10 hours
2. Matej Mohoric, SLO/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.22
3. Attila Valter, HUN, + 1.42