Ivan Garcia Cortina sprints to the podium
Due to strong winds, the first two stages of Paris-Nice put the riders to a real test. While the overall ambitions of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM look thwarted, the first positive news came from Ivan Garcia Cortina who sprinted to 2nd place at the end of stage 2.
Usually, the Paris-Nice stage race is known as the «race to the sun». But this year strong winds have blown the race to pieces quite literally from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM that had planned to ride for Domenico Pozzovivo and Dylan Teuns as co-captains did not get spared. Domenico Pozzovivo became one of the many victims of echelons forming throughout the first stage, losing almost three minutes. On the second day, Dylan Teuns could not keep up with the fastest rivals in the finale, conceding 52 seconds on the way to the finish. As this stage race has often been decided by margins of just a few seconds, that is a real setback. While the team’s ambitions for the overall standings got thwarted early on, this gave Sonny Colbrelli, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Heinrich Haussler, Kristijan Koren and Domen Novak more opportunities to shine themselves.
In the finale of the first stage that had seen frantic racing and a lot of echelons forming due to the wind, Sonny Colbrelli had just one rider of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM to support him with Ivan Garcia Cortina. The Spaniard neutralized a couple of attacks in the finale, but when it came to sprint decision, Colbrelli accelerated a bit early into the headwind and had to settle for an 8th place. The strong winds were still blowing the next day, and apart from the first hour, the stage was ridden at an insanely fast pace. Again the peloton fell apart into multiple echelons, but with about ten kilometres to go the fastest two groups had merged. But after another acceleration with about five kilometres to go eight riders pulled away in the front, going for the win. In the ensuing sprint, Ivan Garcia Cortina only got beaten by the previous day’s stage winner Dylan Groenewegen. By finishing in 2nd, the rider from the Asturias region showed a very strong performance, confirming his reputation as a specialist for races on cobblestones and in foul weather.
The day before Paris-Nice started, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM lined up to the iconic semi-Classic Strade Bianche in Tuscany. As the team’s designated captain Vincenzo Nibali could rely on the support of Grega Bole, Andrea Garosio, Antonio Nibali, Hermann Pernsteiner, Luka Pibernik and Jan Tratnik. The race was held under perfect conditions and things looked promising up to the eighth of an overall of eleven gravel sectors as Vincenzo Nibali and Jan Tratnik were riding close to the front. But then both riders ran out of steam and conceded almost nine minutes on the way to the finish in Siena. After this sobering result, things can only get better at the 54th edition of the Tirreno Adriatico stage race that starts on Wednesday. Again Vincenzo Nibali will be the designated captain for the overall while Phil Bauhaus is set for the bunch sprints and Matej Mohoric gets some freedom for stages with a tricky finale. The team’s strong selection for this stage race further consists of Damiano Caruso, Rohan Dennis, Marcel Sieberg and Jan Tratnik.
77TH PARIS - NICE
STAGE 2: LES BRÉVIAIRES - BELLEGARDE, 163.5KM
1. Dylan Groenewegen, NED, in 3:14.04 hours
2. Ivan Garcia Cortina, ESP/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, st
3. Philippe Gilbert, BEL, st