Looking back on an amazing year of racing
As the year is almost over, Team Bahrain Victorious has already spent a first training camp in Spain. From the slopes of Alpine mountain passes to the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix the past season has brought some remarkable success for the riders in red and black. And seen some smart new signings the outlook for 2022 is promising indeed.
Despite some cancelled races and the lack of spectators at other races, the season 2021 saw the return of pro cycling to most of its iconic venues and races. Finishing the season with 37 wins and in 4th place of all the World Tour teams, Team Bahrain Victorious can consider this season a full-on success. As far as individual wins go, German sprinter Phil Bauhaus stood out with seven wins in international one-week stage races.
As for the Grand Tours, the riders in red and black had to overcome some difficulties: The team lost its designated captain for the overall standings early on both at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France only to rebound strongly and show some aggressive racing that got rewarded with stage wins and more. Masterfully assisted by the likes of Gino Mäder, Jan Tratnik and Pello Bilbao, Damiano Caruso took over the role as GC captain from the unfortunate Mikel Landa to win the last mountain stage of the Giro d’Italia and finish the race in 2nd in the overall standings.
At the Tour de France, bad luck struck again when Jack Haig was forced to abandon in stage 3. The riders of Team Bahrain Victorious soldiered on, however. And this proved well-worth it, as Matej Mohoric rode to two solo wins, Dylan Teuns won a soaking-wet mountain stage and Wout Poels was in contention for the polka dot jersey almost to the very end only to lose it to the overall winner Tadej Pogacar. Add the prestigious win in the team classification to this tally.
As for the Vuelta a España, Damiano Caruso won another mountain stage with an impressive long-range attack, but the best was yet to come on the penultimate stage. In what was a tactical stroke of genius, Team Bahrain Victorious got Gino Mäder and Mark Padun in a position to assist Jack Haig in an attack that was a bid for a place on the GC podium. This plan worked out spectacularly well, as Haig moved up to 3rd and Gino Mäder moved up to 5th in GC and won the Vuelta’s young rider’s classification, with the team again winning the team classification.
You’d think that these successes at the three Grand Tours would stand out, but that is not necessarily so as Sonny Colbrelli racked up an amazing series of performances: At the Tour de Romandie, Colbrelli scored the first victory of the season for the team in a World Tour race. He followed up this performance with wins at the Italian national road championships, the European road championships and a stage and the overall standings of the Benelux Tour. This would already have been a highly successful season.
But the best was yet to come for Colbrelli as he finally and most famously triumphed in a rain-soaked and epic edition of Paris-Roubaix. For Colbrelli, this was a long-cherished dream becoming real. Other memorable moments were the wins at Slovenia’s national road and ITT championships by Matej Mohoric and Jan Tratnik respectively. Add to this Mark Padun’s back-to-back wins in the two conclusive mountain stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné and some courageous riding of Marco Haller and Dylan Teuns at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic and the Ronde van Vlaanderen in spring.
Team Bahrain Victorious’s riders continued to win in autumn: At the track world championships Jonathan Milan won the Gold medal with the Italian team in the 4km team pursuit race and doubled up with a silver medal in the 4km individual pursuit race. CK Feng added another national championship title in Taiwan to his palmares. He followed this up with an amazing victory at Taiwan’s famous KOM Challenge race.
As for 2022, the team will see subtle changes in its line-up: While Marcel Sieberg, Eros Capecchi and Scott Davies finishes their careers as pro cyclisst, riders such as Marco Haller, Kevin Inkelaar and Mark Padun are leaving the team. Coming in as replacements are experienced Spaniard Léon Luis Sànchez, sprint lead-out rider Jasha Sütterlin, strong young time trialists Johan Price-Pejtersen and Filip Maciejuk, Colombian climber Alejandro Osorio Carvajal and Italian sprint talent Edoardo Zambanini.
>From the perspective of MERIDA BIKES as Team Bahrain Victorious’s bicycle supplier, three details stood out: Seeing Sonny Colbrelli win Paris-Roubaix, a race often considered as the ultimate test for both man and equipment and raced in atrocious conditions in early October, on the new REACTO IV was great. All the more so as this win answered all questions why an aero road bike should come with plenty of clearance to fit tyres 30 mm wide. Colbrelli’s victories at the national and European championships were also great to watch and Sonny got rewarded with REACTO IV builds in custom colours for these prestigious wins.
Witnessing a number of stage wins by the likes of Mark Padun and Dylan Teuns on the SCULTURA V before the bike was officially launched and then ridden to more successes by Gino Mäder, Damiano Caruso and Jack Haig added to the excitement. It's not often that a new model is already a proven winner before it has been officially presented, and tests from various special interest magazines show that the SCULTURA V is a real all-round performer that blends aerodynamics, light weight and compliance in one ride. And certainly the TIME-WARP TT proved itself as a competitive time trial rig throughout the season.
As for 2022, expect more fireworks from the riders in red and black aboard their MERIDA BIKES. Thanks to the return of orange accents on the helmets and the torso of the jerseys, the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious should be easy to spot in frontal or helicopter shots from next year’s races. Until then, we’d like to wish you all a happy festive season and new year in good health. Take care and see you again in a couple of weeks.