Siutsou and Boaro shine in Croatia
At the Tour of Croatia, Kanstantin Siutsou held on to the overall lead throughout the two final stages. But things got even better as Manuele Boaro managed to take the win on the race’s second mountaintop finish on the penultimate day. At the Liège-Bastogne-Liège Classic Domenico Pozzovivo added a 5th place and Enrico Gasparotto a 6th for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM.
With two stages to go, things looked very promising for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM at the Tour of Croatia: After Niccolo Bonifazio’s win in the opening stage and Kanstantin Siutsou’s win in the Queen’s stage, the Belarusian rider was leading the overall standings by a narrow margin. But there was still a stage with five categorized climbs and the final stage with the frantic finale in Zagreb to be races, so the team needed to keep its focus. Soon after the penultimate stage had started a group of 17 riders got away, and Manuele Boaro decided to join this move to keep it in check. As the group shrank to eleven and then four riders on the final climb to Ucka, Boaro handsomely kept himself in contention, marking the other riders. With 500 meters to go, he attacked hard from the last position in the lead group, surprising his three remaining companions and pedalling to his first win since 2014, scoring the third stage win for his team during the race.
In this climb to Ucka Kanstantin Siutsou had to fend off some attacks of his overall rivals Pieter Weening and Yevgeniy Gidich, holding on to his eight-second lead in the overall standings. Since a couple of attackers had gotten away to go for the stage win with Matej Mohoric finishing in 7th, the bonifications were out of the reach of his rivals, reducing the risk of losing the leader’s jersey. Siutsou got protected by his teammates throughout the final stage and managed to put another three seconds into Weening in the finale. Thus one year after winning the overall standings of the Tour of Croatia with Vincenzo Nibali, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM doubled up with another rider. The riders in red, gold and dark blue also won the team classification, and three stage wins topped off the impressive performance of the team in Croatia. Seeing riders celebrate wins who often put their talents at the service of other riders came as a welcome extra.
This Sunday also saw another of cycling’s monuments with Liège-Bastogne-Liège, another highlight of the year’s spring campaign. The BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM brought a strong selection to the Ardennes Classic: Apart from Vincenzo Nibali and Gorka and Ion Izagirre, the team also fielded the likes of Enrico Gasparotto, Domenico Pozzovivo, Giovanni Visconti and Franco Pellizotti. At first, a nine-man lead group took charge of things, while the riders in red, gold and dark blue saved their energies in the peloton. But after the Côte du Redoute had not seen any decisive moves, the team jumped to the front of the peloton with just a bit more than 20 kilometers to go on the approach of the Roche aux Faucons climb, but they could not enforce a selection. Rather to the contrary, Bob Jungels placed his decisive move at the top of this climb, soloing to the win. On the Saint-Nicolas as the last ascent Domenico Pozzovivo tried to up the pace and close the gap to Jungels, but his effort came too late and he crossed the finish line in 5th, side by side with Enrico Gasparotto who finished the monument in 6th.
TOUR OF CROATIA: STAGE 5, RABAC - UCKA (POKLON), 156.5KM
1. Manuele Boaro, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 4:15.54 hours
2. Lukasz Owsian, POL, + 0.07
3. Alessandro Tonelli, ITA, + 0.10
FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS
1. Kanstantin Siutsou, BLR/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 26:51.12 hours
2. Pieter Weening, NED, +0.11
3. Yevgeniy Gidich, KAZ, + 1.01
1. BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM in 80:52.22 hours
2. Bicicletas Strongman Colombia Coldeportes + 5.17
3. Astana Pro Team + 7.39