Bilbao wins queen’s stage of Tour of the Alps
By winning the queen’s stage of the Tour of the Alps, Pello Bilbao has given Team Bahrain Victorious its second victory of the season. Thanks to his strong ride the Basque rider also moved up into 2nd in the overall standings of the race.
With rather short but all the more demanding stages and a star-studded list of starters, the Tour of the Alps that is being contested in both Italy and Austria is a proper test for the Giro d’Italia. Team Bahrain Victorious is riding for its captain Pello Bilbao, who can rely on the support of Yukiya Arashiro, Chun-kai Feng, Domen Novak, Mark Padun, Hermann Pernsteiner and Rafael Valls. And right from the start the riders in red and black were in an attacking mood. As for the opening stage leading from Brixen over the Brenner Pass to Innsbruck, Pello Bilbao attacked in the finale only to be caught with 3 kilometers to go and to finish in the main group in 13th.
The second stage served up a first serious test of the climbing legs. While Pello Bilbao could not keep up with his strongest rivals on that day, he managed to keep his deficit to stage winner Simon Yates within close limits, crossing the finish line in 11th place. For most of the third stage it was up to Hermann Pernsteiner to fly the colours of Team Bahrain Victorious in the lead group. While this group split up in the finale, Pello Bilbao managed to jump from the group of favourites to the first chasing group. Thanks to the tireless work of Hermann Pernsteiner, this group almost managed to get back to the leaders, and Pello Bilbao handsomely regained much of the time lost the day before, moving up to 3rd place in the overall standings.
The fourth stage of the race had been marked as the queen’s stage, packing more than 4600 vertical meters of descending into a distance of less than 170 kilometers. At first it was Hermann Pernsteiner who managed to get into the right group again, giving Team Bahrain Victorious some proper visibility. On the approach to the last climb of the day this group was caught, and on the Boniprati climb the group of favourites fragmented into multiple little groups. Pello Bilbao crossed the summit in 3rd place, about 20 seconds behind the race leaders. On the following descent to the finish, he closed this gap with a true masterclass in bike handling, catching up with Aleksandr Vlasov and Simon Yates and beating them in the sprint to the line. Thanks to his first win of the season - the second for the team - Pello Bilbao moved up to 2nd in the overall standings.
After the Paris-Roubaix classic had to be postponed to October, Team Bahrain Victorious lined up for three more one-day races - banking on Sonny Colbrelli as its man for a bunch sprint and the likes of Dylan Teuns, Matej Mohoric and Wout Poels for attacks from a distance. Showing some courageous riding in the finale of the Brabantse Pijl, Dylan Teuns could not follow when Tom Pidcock, Wout Van Aert and Matteo Trentin went clear. But he kept himself in the first chase group, doing his fair share of work and sprinting to a 7th place in Overijse, scoring a valuable top10 result for his team.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the Amstel Gold Race had to be contested on a shortened loop entirely on Dutch territory. As for the finale, it was Matej Mohoric who rode into the spotlight, sprinting to a 9th place only three seconds adrift of the day’s winner Wout Van Aert and thus adding another top10 result to the team’s tally. At the Flèche Wallonne things looked less stellar for Team Bahrain Victorious, however. As so often in the past the race came down to the very steep Mur de Huy. Up to the 500 meters-to-go mark, Jack Haig was well positioned at the sharp end of the race, but he had no answer to the following accelerations, crossing the finish line in 19th as the best-placed rider of the team.
45TH TOUR OF THE ALPS, STAGE 4: NATURNS - PIEVE DI BONO, 168.6KM
1. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:39.42 hours
2. Aleksandr Vlasov, RUS, st
3. Simon Yates, GBR, st
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER 4 OF 5 STAGES:
1. Simon Yates, GBR, in 15:31.48 hours
2. Pello Bilbao, ESP/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.58
3. Aleksandr Vlasov, RUS, + 1.06