Ready for the showdown in the Alps
Team Bahrain-McLaren and its captain Mikel Landa did not show any signs of weakness throughout the second week of the Tour de France. As a reward for this performance, Mikel Landa is placed in 7th in the overall standings on the second rest day, and the team has moved up to 4th place in the team standings thanks to cohesive efforts in the mountains.
On the first rest day of this year’s Tour de France, the dominating emotion within Team Bahrain-McLaren had been disenchantment on Mikel Landa’s loss of 1.21 minutes to his main overall rivals when echelons had formed in the finale of stage 7. This was not to happen again, and the riders in red, papaya and black showed a concerted and focussed effort throughout the second week to keep their captain out of any possible trouble. On flat to hilly terrain, Sonny Colbrelli, Marco Haller and Matej Mohoric could often be seen at the sharp end of the peloton. And indeed thanks to these efforts Mikel Landa lost no more time in those often treacherous transitional stages. There would have been plenty of opportunities to do just that, as some other overall contenders went on to show.
As for the two hard mountain stages of the second week finishing at Le Puy Mary and Grand Colombier, respectively Mikel Landa could rely on the support of Pello Bilbao and Damiano Caruso deep into the finale. While the Basque rider found no way to counter the explosive accelerations of the two Slovene riders Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar on the final kilometer, but apart from these two riders Landa showed to be one of the strongest and most consistent climbers in the race. Thanks to this he moved up to 7th place in the overall standings, 2.16 minutes behind the overall leader but only a scant 13 seconds off 5th place. Thanks to the strong performances of Caruso and Bilbao, Team Bahrain-McLaren moved up to 4th place in the team classification. And with a bit of luck Wout Poels will have recovered far enough to return to his role as mountain domestique in the decisive third week.
While the race situation looks promising on the second rest day of the Tour de France, Team Bahrain-McLaren had to deal with some setbacks at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race. On the penultimate kilometer of the first stage, Phil Bauhaus could not avoid a big pile-up before the bunch sprint even started. The German sprinter started and finished the second stage but had to withdraw after due to a wrist injury. Mark Padun was not able to start stage 3 due to an illness, so the team was down to five riders. Still the team managed to get two top10 results: Ivan Cortina sprinted to a 9th place at the end of stage 6, and Jan Tratnik also clocked the 9th fastest time in the conclusive individual time trial on a pan flat course along the Adriatic Sea.