Jonathan Milan doubles up in Croatia
Just one day after celebrating his first pro win, Jonathan Milan doubled up at the CRO Race: wearing the jersey of the GC leader, the young Italian of Team Bahrain Victorious managed to cross the finish line first after a bunch sprint. Since the winning margin was tiny, the race jury took some time to check out the photo finish images and announce the day's winner.
Compared to the opening stage of the CRO Race, stage 2 looked decidedly easier on paper as the race led down to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. But the local loop through the streets of Zadar war tricky, featuring a lot of direction changes and some cobblestone sections. No wonder there was a lot of tension within the peloton after the last of the day's early attackers had been brought back, with Team Bahrain Victorious doing its share of the chasing work. Other than the day before, there luckily was no rain, and the finale could be contested on dry streets. Matej Mohoric did a great job of keeping Jonathan Milan out of the wind and in the first positions of the peloton, and due to the high speed throughout the finale, any late attacks were doomed to fail.
Since the last kilometre featured a sharp left-hand corner and the narrow finishing straight had a slight downhill gradient, Jonathan Milan betted on a long sprint - a very long sprint. When the young Italian wearing the leader's jersey accelerated from the leading position, only three riders could keep up with him in his slipstream: Elia Viviani, Pierre Barbier and the latter's teammate Axel Laurance. Both Viviani and Barbier tried to jump from Milan's slipstream to pass him in extremis. And indeed, it first looked as if Barbier had managed to push his front wheel over the finish line first, and the Frenchman raised his arms in celebration right away. But a few minutes later and upon close inspection of the photo finish images, the race jury declared that Jonathan Milan was the stage winner.
With his second win in as many stages, Jonathan Milan expanded his lead in the overall standings of the CRO Race to 14 seconds. But this will hardly be enough to defend the leader's jersey at the end of stage 3 as a steep final climb is waiting for the riders in Primosten. For this reason, Team Bahrain Victorious will change its focus to Matej Mohoric and Santiago Buitrago as its two co-leaders for the GC. But whatever is to happen tomorrow, nobody can take those two back-to-back stage wins and the two days in the leader's jersey away from Jonathan Milan.
7TH CRO RACE, STAGE 2: OTOCAC - ZADAR, 163KM
1. Jonathan Milan, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 3:44.44 hours
2. Pierre Barbier, FRA, st
3. Elia Viviani, ITA, st
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER TWO STAGES:
1. Jonathan Milan, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 9:16.12 hours
2. Pierre Barbier, FRA, + 0.14
3. Sacha Modolo, ITA, st
Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency