Phil Bauhaus wins Cro Race’s opening stage
For the six-day stage race Cro Race held in Croatia, Team Bahrain Victorious has selected a line-up with Phil Bauhaus as the team’s sprinter and Mikel Landa as the GC captain. The opening stage of the race was as flat as it was long, and Phil Bauhaus sprinted to his seventh win of the season in Varazdin.
Just two days after the World championships held in Flanders had come to a close, Team Bahrain Victorious was back to competing at the Cro Race. Out of a total of six stages, three to four stages look to be perfect for a bunch sprint decision. Meanwhile the penultimate stage looks like the Queen’s stage, packing almost 2500 vertical meters of ascending into less than 140 kilometers and looking like the stage that will decide the race for the overall standings. Team Bahrain Victorious brings two co-captains to this race, with Phil Bauhaus as the team’s go-to rider to sprint for wins in flat stages and Mikel Landa looking for a podium result in the GC, meaning that he has to keep up with the best climbers in the fifth stage. These two riders can rely on the able support of Santiago Buitrago, Domen Novak, Mark Padun, Hermann Pernsteiner and Stevie Williams.
The first stage of the race was the longest as well, measuring no less than 237 kilometers between Osijek and Varazdin. With the only categorized climb coming after almost 200 kilometers, the wind looked to be the prime complicating factor. But on race day, it was not strong enough to provoke the formation of echelons, meaning that the day's early attackers got to spend even more time in the race lead. Even before the only climb of the day started, these five riders began attacking each other, and the last remaining rider of the early breakaway way caught with 27 kilometers to go. Soon after, another attack by two riders forced Team Bahrain Victorious to give chase again, and it took a proper effort to get things back together for a bunch sprint. As for the last couple of kilometers, Phil Bauhaus was on his own and latched onto the sprint train of a rival. The German kept his cool throughout the many turns of the final circuit and sprinted to the win convincingly - for Bauhaus, this was the seventh win of the season.
Two days earlier some riders of Team Bahrain Victorious had been competing in the colours of their respective national teams at pro cycling's World championship race held in Flanders. Jan Tratnik had already ridden the individual time trial earlier in the week and cranked out an enormous workload on Sunday for the Slovenian national team. Matej Mohoric could also be seen at the sharp end of the race for a long time before he lost contact and had to settle for a 14th place. Sonny Colbrelli could rely on the support of the strong Italian selection, but he lost two key riders due to crashes early on. And while he managed to stick to Julian Alaphilippe's wheel at one of the Frenchman's attacks, he eventually lost contact as well. In the end the European champion had to settle for a 10th place.
7TH CRO RACE, STAGE 1: OSIJEK - VARAZDIN, 237KM
1. Phil Bauhaus, GER/Team Bahrain Victorious, in 5:52.06 hours
2. Olav Kooij, NED, st
3. Kristoffer Halvorsen, NOR, st
Photos: Mario Stiehl (2), KL photo (1)