Croatia: First pro win for Jonathan Milan
In the very first stage of the six-stage CRO Race, Team Bahrain Victorious played its cards perfectly: While a late attack of Matej Mohoric was brought back in the final kilometer, Jonathan Milan proved to be the fastest sprinter of a reduced bunch by far, getting to celebrate his first pro win.
This year's cycling season is getting closer to its end, and Team Bahrain Victorious is lining up for one last stage race this week with the CRO Race. Last year Stevie Williams was the surprise overall winner, and the riders in red, orange and black are looking to repeat this success this year. The chances to do so are real as Matej Mohoric and Santiago Buitrago are the co-captains for GC and Jonathan Milan is the team's sprinter. With support riders such as Damiano Caruso, Hermann Pernsteiner and Filip Maciejuk the line-up is impressive, and young Fran Miholjevic gets to ride in the colours of Team Bahrain Victorious for the first time on home turf. With two uphill finishes, three hilly stages and a mostly flat stage to cap things off, the CRO Race serves up quite a diverse menu and thus offers different types of riders a real chance to put themselves in the spotlights.
To get things going, the opening stage from Osijek to Ludbreg was the longest of the entire race, featuring a circuit with a cat3 climb in the finale that had to be ridden twice, offering chances for late attacks - all the more so as the second passage of the climb came with less than 5 kilometers to go in the stage. At first seven riders took charge of things and went up the road to form the group of the day. Team Bahrain Victorious did its share in pacing the peloton and keeping control of the breakaway. When the rain set in during the finale, the team looked to convert its strength into success. Damiano Caruso kept his young compatriot Jonathan Milan in a perfect position on the climb while the peloton splintered to multiple group. Then Matej Mohoric went on the attack on the treacherous descent to the finish, but the gap that this year's winner of Milano - Sanremo created proved to be too small.
With one kilometer to go it was clear that the reduced peloton would get back to Mohoric, so Jonathan Milan first kept his rivals in check and then placed a scorching acceleration. The young Italian distanced all others by multiple bike lengths right away and kept on to that lead all the way to the finish line. Thus Jonathan Milan scored his first victory in pro road cycling after a series of impressive successes on the track. Matej Mohoric still finished the stage within the top10 in 7th, and with Santiago Buitrago, Damiano Caruso and Hermann Pernsteiner the team had three more riders finishing in the same group as Jonathan Milan. The latter is likely to face stronger opposition in the finale of tomorrow's stage as the route from Otocac to Zadar only features a few climbs.
7TH CRO RACE, STAGE 1: OSIJEK - LUDBREG, 223.5 KM
1. Jonathan Milan, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 5:31.48 hours
2. Sacha Modolo, ITA, st
3. Mirco Maestri, ITA, st