The racing season picks up speed

This weekend, Team Bahrain Victorious rode into cycling’s spot lights with a 3rd place for Phil Bauhaus in the final stage of the UAE Tour, a 4th place for Heinrich Haussler at the Omloop het Nieuwsblad and a 6th place for Sonny Colbrelli at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne.

For what was the first race of the classic spring campaign, Team Bahrain Victorious fielded a strong team for the Omloop het Nieuwsblad. As the team’s designated sprinter, Sonny Colbrelli could rely on the assistance of Marco Haller, Heinrich Haussler and Marcel Sieberg. If a smaller group were to contest for the win Dylan Teuns was the team’s prime option, with Mark Padun and Stevie Williams in assistance. But when Sonny Colbrelli could not avoid a crash in a twisting section with 54 kilometers to go, Team Bahrain Victorious was forced to change plans. After an animated finale with repeat attacks and echelons forming, about sixty riders approached the finish line in Ninove, with Dylan Teuns, Marco Haller and Heinrich Haussler amongst them. Haller piloted Haussler into a promising position on the final kilometer, and from there the Australian expertly positioned himself to cross the line in 4th - a respectable result both for Haussler and for the team.

The day after the same riders lined up for the 73rd edition of the semi-classic Kuurbe-Bruxelles-Kuurne. After the usual early attack of six riders. Mathieu van der Poel surprised all other pre-race favourites with an attack with 83 kilometers to go. While the advantage never grew to a minute, he and other attackers would only be caught on the penultimate kilometer of the race. One of the reasons for this was that the peloton got split into different groups due to a series of crashes. For a while, Dylan Teuns was the only rider of Team Bahrain Victorious to make it into the first chasing group, riding a strong race and covering various attacks. Deep into the finale a group with Marco Haller, Heinrich Haussler and Sonny Colbrelli managed to get back to the first chase group, and the race was wide open again. But it also had cost a lost of power. Sonny Colbrelli could not find any gap on the finish straight and had to settle for 6th place.

At the UAE Tour as the first World Tour race of the season, Team Bahrain Victorious was performing better the longer the race lasted. The first stage turned into a full-on crosswind battle, and Damiano Caruso was the only rider of Team Bahrain Victorious to make it into the first group. Despite crashing on the last kilometer he was the only rider not to lose time on the first day. At the end of the 4th stage, Phil Bauhaus scored a first top10 result with a 7th place, and Wout Poels followed suit the next day with an 8th place at the mountain top finish of Jebel Jais. On the final day, Phil Bauhaus topped off the UAE Tour on a positive note: Neatly piloted into the bunch sprint by his team mates, the German timed his effort well to cross the finish line in 3rd. In the overall standings, Damiano Caruso finished the race in 7th place, and Team Bahrain Victorious ended up in 6th place in the team classification.

1. Caleb Ewan, AUS, in 3:18.29 hours
2. Sam Bennett, IRL, st