Sonny Colbrelli wins atop Hatta Dam


Sonny Colbrelli wins atop Hatta Dam

The Dubai Tour is the first big rendezvous of the strongest sprinters of the world. After two top10 results and a 5th place in the third stage, Sonny Colbrelli managed to win the fourth stage of the race, topping off the generous work of his BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM.

Featuring three entirely flat stages, a modestly hilly stage and the tough finish atop the Hatta Dam, the Dubai Tour is a race made for sprinters. No wonder many of the world’s fastest sprinters lined up for this race in the United Arab Emirates. The BAHRAIN MERIDA CYCLING TEAM was also built around a fast man: Sonny Colbrelli could rely on the support of Borut Bozic, Grega Bole, David Per and Ivan Garcia Cortina. Having recovered from the digestive problems that had plagued him in Argentina, Vincenzo Nibali saw a delayed start to his season at the Dubai Tour, and Kristijan Koren added to the team’s experience. In the finale of the first stage, the sprint preparation of the team was thwarted by a crash that brought down Grega Bole and Ivan Garcia Cortina. Forced to shift for himself, Sonny Colbrelli could not do better than an 8th place against strong competition. One day later he got boxed in on the right side of the finishing straight and had to settle for 9th.

Unfazed by these two bunch sprints the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM decided to change its tactics: At the end of the third stage, three teammates gave Sonny Colbrelli a protected ride to get to the rear wheel of Elia Viviani. From there, Colbrelli sprinted to a 5th place. The day after saw the demanding stage with the arrival atop the Hatta Dam. Chasing a couple of early attackers, the peloton covered the final 30 kilometres at a very fast pace. In the finale, the riders in red, gold and dark blue upped the speed one more time and made sure that all but one attacker got caught. From there, Sonny Colbrelli timed his acceleration on the final ascent with gradients of up to 17 percents to perfection, flying past the last remaining attacker and pushing on all the way to the finish line. Thus Colbrelli got to celebrate his first win of the season and to receive the hugs and congratulations of his teammates. In the overall standings, the Italian moved from 8th to 3rd, a mere 4 seconds behind the overall leader.

One week earlier the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM had been competing in Catalonia at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. As the team’s designated captain, Giovanni Visconti was assisted by Ramunas Navardauskas, Domen Novak, Luka Pibernik, Hermann Pernsteiner, Franco Pellizotti and Enrico Gasparotto. In the race’s 2nd stage, three riders got away in the finale and stayed away all the way to the finish line. Giovanni Visconti won the sprint of a select group for 4th place. Due to strong winds and very wet roads, the race jury decided that the team time trial would not count for the overall standings. The next day, Visconti attacked before the final ascent but got caught with 3 kilometres to go, losing a minute on the way to the finish line. From the team’s perspective, a top5 stage result and a 7th place in the team classification were the highlights of this race.

As for the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional held in Argentina, Niccolo Bonifazio racked up three top5 results - a 2nd place and two 5th places, respectively. This performance was all the more remarkable as Vincenzo Nibali had been forced to forfeit the race due to digestive issues and Mark Padun had abandoned the first stage for the same reasons, reducing the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM to 4 riders early on. Last but not least, there is some good news from the Asian cycling championships held in Burma: Riding his MERIDA WARP TT, Yukiya Arashiro was part of the Japanese team that rode to gold medals in the team time trial over a distance of 72 kilometres.

Dubai Tour

Stage 4: Skydive Dubai - Hatta Dam (172km)
1. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 3:40.50 hours
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen, DEN, st
3. Timo Roosen, NED, st

Overall standings:
1. Elia Viviani, ITA, in 16:00.28 hours
2. Magnus Cort Nielsen, DEN, + 0.02