Mark Padun wins Dauphiné Queen’s stage
The riders of Team Bahrain Victorious continue to shine at the Critérium du Dauphiné stage race. On the penultimate stage, Mark Padun surprised friend and foe with an attack on the final climb, getting to celebrate a solo win in La Plagne. By finishing the Queen’s stage in 4th, Jack Haig moved up to 5th in the overall standings.
Apart from the individual time trial where Jack Haig posted the 14th time as its best-placed rider, Team Bahrain Victorious has been performing brilliantly at the Critérium du Dauphiné stage race. Yesterday Jack Haig finished the first mountain stage in 8th place, and in the days before Sonny Colbrelli sprinted to one stage win and no less than three 2nd places, confirming his status as the strongest of the fast men lining up for this race. As a consequence Colbrelli has been wearing the Green jersey of the points leader since stage 2. As for the overall standings of the race, Saturday's Queen's stage was generally considered to be a telling test, featuring two category climbs and more than 4000 meters of ascending. Despite this demanding profile, the riders did not hold back a bit, and the first 50 kilometres were covered in less than one hour with no breakaway being allowed to go up the road.
After this frantically fast first hour, a first five-rider breakaway formed, and from this group, Marco Haller won the full points at the intermediate sprint in Albertville. On the way to the Col du Pré and the Cormet de Roseland, more riders joined the lead group, but the overall contenders decided to keep their powder dry for the final ascent. On the descent from the Cormet de Roseland, Marco Haller teamed up with Michael Valgren and left the other attackers behind. But when the long final climb to La Plagne started for real, the Austrian was caught by the group of overall contenders. In this group and with 15 kilometres to go Team Bahrain Victorious still had three riders, with Jack Haig relying on the support of Dylan Teuns and Mark Padun. With about 11 kilometres to go the last of the early attackers were brought back, and the Movistar team was setting a fast pace.
Despite this pace, Richie Porte was the first overall contender to attack with 8.5 kilometres to go. One rider of Team Bahrain Victorious jumped on Porte's wheel right away - it was not Jack Haig but Mark Padun. The Ukrainian waited for less than one kilometre before placing an acceleration of his own that only Sepp Kuss could follow. With 4.7 kilometres to go Mark Padun accelerated one more time to drop his last companion, and with three kilometres to go he had built a lead of more than one minute to the group of favourites. While Padun had to dig deep on the final kilometre, his lead was big enough to stay away and to celebrate his solo win atop La Plagne to the full - his first career win in a top-tier Pro Tour race.
«This really is an incredible moment for me, as the stage was very hard and this is my first win in the Pro Tour», a delighted Mark Padun commented at the finish. «I could hardly believe it when I approached the finish line. I just had wanted to create some buffer to the GC riders so I maybe could help Jack later on when everybody would attack. But none of this happened. I would like to thank the entire team and the DS staff for believing in me. The last season was hard, and due to persistent knee issues, I doubted if cycling was the right sport for me at times. Needless to say, those doubts are gone now!» Jack Haig crossed the finish line 43 seconds later in 4th place. Thanks to this result, the Australian captain of Team Bahrain Victorious moved up from 8th to 5th in the overall standings with one more demanding stage in the French Alps to go.
73RD CRITÉRIUM DU DAUPHINÉ
STAGE 7: SAINT-MARTIN-LE-VINOUX - LA PLAGNE, 171.1KM
1. Mark Padun, UKR/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:35.07 hours
2. Richie Porte, AUS, + 0.34
3. Miguel Angel Lopez, COL, + 0.43
STAGE 5: SAINT-CHARMOND - SAINT-VALLIER, 175.4KM
1. Geraint Thomas, GBR, in 4:02.15 hours
2. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
3. Alex Aranburu, ESP, st