First win of the season for Phil Bauhaus
After riders of Team Bahrain-McLaren had finished in 2nd in the two initial stages of the Saudi Tour, Phil Bauhaus managed to go one better in the third stage, scoring the first win of the season. The experience and cleverness of Mark Cavendish was key to this victory. At the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Dylan Teuns added another top result by finishing the second stage in 3rd.
Covering 119 kilometers, the third stage of the Saudi Tour was the shortest of the entire race, but it packed some challenges nevertheless with a series of climbs. The last of these ramps came up with less than 13 kilometers to go, was 500 meters long and featured an average gradient of more than 12 percents. On the run-in to this climb, Team Bahrain-McLaren had contributed massively to chase down all early attackers. But it was on this climb where overall leader Rui Costa attacked hard to win three seconds of bonifications, and from there the Portuguese rider tried to stay away from the peloton. Thanks to a strong, concerted effort of Team Bahrain-McLaren and other teams with strong sprinters the peloton managed to reel Costa back in well in time.
Throughout the final four kilometers it was up to first Marcel Sieberg and then Heinrich Haussler to set the pace of the peloton and thwart any late attacks. Thus a reunited peloton headed into the exact same finale as the day before. At the sharp end of the peloton Heinrich Haussler led Phil Bauhaus and Mark Cavendish onto the ascending final kilometer. «Originally we had agreed that I would lead out Mark, so I accelerated from Heinrich’s wheel with about 450 meters to go. But then Mark yelled that I should go for the win and at the same time he eased up just enough to give me the gap I needed. Honestly I’ve never seen so much cleverness in a sprint», Phil Bauhaus said in the winner’s interview. Once the other sprinters realized that they had been tricked by Team Bahrain-McLaren, Phil Bauhaus was already out of reach.
Without any problems the German sprinter defended his lead on the final 200 meters, scoring his first personal win of the season and the first win for the newly formed Team Bahrain-McLaren. Thanks to the bonifications won on the finish line, Bauhaus also managed to take over the green overall leader’s jersey of the race. Since this win has been achieved on the Arab peninsula, it is of particular value for the team’s main sponsors. «Today’s stage was pretty hard: From the second climb it was full gas all the way to the finish. The team did a great job to keep the chances of its sprinters alive. As for the overall standings of the Saudi Tour, I do not really think about that - but we have a second option for that with Heinrich Haussler. Of course it would be nice if one rider of our team could finish this race on the podium», Phil Bauhaus added.
With a final ascent over two kilometers to Cullera, the second stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana promised a spectacular finish. But at first all the lights were on five early attackers. Just when the peloton was about to catch them, young Frenchman Rémi Cavagna decided to give it another go. He was only caught at the foot of the final ascent, and the high pace set by Team Bahrain-McLaren’s Ivan Garcia Cortina was key in doing so. Various riders tried to get away on the steep ramps to Cullera until Alejandro Valverde started the uphill sprint for the stage win. Only two riders went head to head with him with Tadej Pogacar and Dylan Teuns, with Teuns crossing the finish line in 3rd, giving his team a second podium result on this Thursday.
SAUDI TOUR, STAGE 3: RIYADH - AL BUJAIRI, 119KM
1. PHIL BAUHAUS, GER/BAHRAIN-MCLAREN, IN 2:48.27 HOURS
2. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, RSA, st
3. Youcef Reguigui, DZA, st
71ST VOLTA A LA COMUNITAT VALENCIANA
STAGE 2, TORRENT - CULLERA, 181KM
1. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, in 4:14.26 hours
2. Alejandro Valverde, ESP, st
3. Dylan Teuns, BEL/Team Bahrain-McLaren, st