Race News

Vincenzo Nibali on top in Andorra

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Vincenzo Nibali on top in Andorra

At the Tour de Pologne and the Binck Bank Tour the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM had missed out on any wins. But things changed quickly at the Vuelta a España when Vincenzo Nibali won the sprint of a strong group at the end of stage 3 in Andorra.

After his podium result in the Giro d’Italia, BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM’s Vincenzo Nibali had taken a well-deserved break from racing. The Tour de Pologne signaled the second half of the season for the Sicilian. Vincenzo Nibali lined up for the Vuelta a España with high ambitions - no wonder seen the fact that he’s managed to win this race before. The bookies also placed the Italian in second of all overall contenders and right behind Tour de France winner Chris Froome ahead of the year’s third Grand Tour. Due to injuries and health issues, the team had to do without two key riders however with Ramunas Navardauskas and Konstantin Siutsou.

Despite this loss of depth even before the race started, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM rode a decent opening team time trial on the roads around the Southern French city of Nîmes. The riders in blue, red and gold conceded 31 seconds to the day’s fastest team, finishing the stage in 9th. The second stage brought mixed emotions for the team: Javier Moreno was involved in a crash with 61 kilometers to go, breaking his jaw and having to abandon the race early on. Vincenzo Nibali on the other hand, made good use of his experience and class, followed the right wheels in the finale and gained a couple of seconds on all other overall contenders.

On the third day, the Vuelta a España already headed into the Pyrenees and to Andorra, passing two category 1 climbs and one category 2 climb. The last attackers were reeled in with 28 kilometers to go, and Chris Froome tried to enforce a decision on the last climb with a strong acceleration. While Vincenzo Nibali could not get on Froome’s wheel right away, the captain of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM kept the deficit to Froome small throughout the ascent and relied on his descending skills to bridge the gap. This worked out and he got back to the race leaders on the penultimate kilometer. Nibali got the stage win with a well-timed attack with 300 meters to go, adding a prestigious win in the World tour to his team’s tally. In the overall standings, Nibali moved up to 5th place, 10 seconds behind Froome.

Hamburg’s Cyclassics marked Heinrich Haussler’s comeback after a long break caused by a knee injury. But BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM’s designated captains for the race in and around the Hanseatic city were Niccolo Bonifazio and Sonny Colbrelli. For this reason, the team kept out of the early attacks and focussed on preserving the power of its sprint specialists for the very likely bunchsprint. While this worked out, Niccolo Bonifazio could not find any gap throughout the frantic final kilometer. Thus he crossed the finish line in 14th with Heinrich Haussler finishing right behind him.

72nd Vuelta a España

Stage 3: Prades Conflent Canigo - Andorra la Vella, 158.5km

1. Vincenzo Nibali, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 4:01.22 hours
2. David de la Cruz, ESP, st
3. Chris Froome, GBR, st

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