Stage win for Grega Bole in Japan
At the Tour of Japan, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM is reaping the rewards for some aggressive racing in the early stages: After a strong prologue, Grega Bole finished the first stage in 2nd and then won the second stage, wearing the leader’s jersey. Meanwhile, Domenico Pozzovivo solidified his hold on 3rd place in the overall of the Giro d’Italia.
Featuring a prologue and seven stages, the Tour of Japan offers a mix of flat and hilly circuits in various cities and the climbing stage on the slopes of Mount Fuji that normally shapes the overall standings. The BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM fielded six riders for this stage race. Of course local hero Yukiya Arashiro was part of the team. Being fast finishers, he and Grega Bole could hope for stage wins, while the team’s Austrian climber Hermann Pernsteiner could do well in the overall standings. Valerio Agnoli, David Per and Meiyin Wang were sent to ride in their support. And the riders in red, gold and dark blue showed strong performances from the very start: At the prologue in Sakai, Grega Bole was the team’s best finisher in 7th, proving that he came to Japan in an excellent form. Another rider to surprise was Meiyin Wang: The Chinese rider finished the prologue in a strong 20th place.
In the finale of the first stage the profound local knowledge of Yukiya Arashiro came in very handy on the circuit around Kyoto: After the four early attackers had been caught, the peloton increased the pace significantly. This prevented any further attacks until domestic rider Takeaki Amezawa got away with one kilometer to go, getting onto the finishing straight with a slight advantage. While Grega Bole managed to get back onto the wheel of the Japanese, he could not pass him anymore and had to settle for second. Of course, the fact that the stage winner was also riding MERIDA’s REACTO was no real consolation, but thanks to the bonifications Bole got to wear the green leader’s jersey. The second stage started with a real scare for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM: Yukiya Arashiro crashed heavily early on due to a touch of wheels. Nevertheless, he kept working for the team tirelessly and finished the stage. But due to his injuries, he’s more than unlikely to continue the race.
On the last two laps, the riders in red, gold and dark blue forced a selection on the downhill and some stretches with crosswinds. As a consequence, Grega Bole found himself in a select small group when entering the finishing straight in Inabe. From there the experienced Slovene went for it and took his chance, winning the stage in the leader’s jersey. «This stage win is dedicated to the entire team, but to Yukiya in particular. Seeing him soldiering on after his crash is a proof of character. He’s not just a good friend but a real personality.» Like the entire team, MERIDA wished Yukiya Arashiro a speedy recovery.
Just a couple of hours later and 10’000 kilometers further to the west, Domenico Pozzovivo as the captain of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM managed to keep his time loss within limits in the long individual time trial of the Giro d’Italia, therefore solidifying his third place in the overall standings of the race.
TOUR OF JAPAN
STAGE 1: KYOTO - KYOTO, 105KM
1. Takeaki Amezawa, JAP, in 2:49.29 hours
2. Grega Bole, SVN/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, st
3. Marco Canola, ITA, st
STAGE 2: INABE - INABE, 127KM
1. Grega Bole, SVN/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 3:11.57 hours
2. Marco Canola, ITA, st
3. Ian Bibby, GBR, st