Matej Mohorič took his second stage victory at this year’s Tour de France, taking Bahrain Victorious’ tally up to three.
The 19th stage started in Mourenx and, finishing in Libourne, raced over 207 kilometres. It was expected to be a day for a bunch sprint, but an early breakaway of six riders, including Mohorič, had other ideas.
The break had a gap of around four minutes. With 100 kilometres to go, a group of 14 riders managed to bridge over to the breakaway. In the last 40 kilometres, the break started to attack each other. In the final 25 kilometres, Matej managed to break clear of the rest and solo to victory in Libourne, also earning the most combative rider award.
Matej Mohoric: ” On paper, it was a day for the sprint, but I wanted to make sure I was ready to go in any move. When I heard another group was coming over, I knew that they would also be making a big effort to close us, so I remained calm. In the end, it was about following the right move, and when Pollit attacked, I countered and was able to make a gap. I was suffering in the last ten kilometres, but I just kept fighting till the finish.
I am so happy, not just for me but the team. We had a hard couple of days, but it just brought us closer together and to keep fighting. I’m super proud of this win, this team and what we’ve achieved at this race.”
From France to Italy, where the team celebrated another podium result in Sardinia at the ‘Settimana Ciclistica Italiana’, with Jonathan Milan second behind Pascal Ackermann (Bohra-Hansgrohe) in a photo finish on stage 3.
The team’s new pro rider was focused on trying to go for the win as today’s stage (Oristano-Cagliari 180.9km), according to the overall difference in altitude, was on the paper the easiest of the week, and the course almost flat, especially in the last 50km, suits him. The team worked to support him on the two KoM of the day – in Villacidro atop a steep ramp and atop Genna and Bogai Pass (8km with an average gradient around 5%) – and to close the gap to the day’s breakaway, that ended after 108km. Then it was ‘Gruppo compatto’ until the finish on a straight wide road in Cagliari, where the fast men battled for the win.
Jonathan Milan: “I’m really happy on this second place. Of course, I was looking for a win, but with a rival like Ackermann it’s never easy to beat him. Anyway, I tried and got second place only for few centimeters. Today the team was really strong and helped me come to the final km; then I just did my best”.
Alberto Volpi, Bahrain Victorious SD: “Jonathan wanted to take his responsibility for the sprint today. He talked to the team at the meeting, and we were happy with this decision. He deserves our congratulations on that. He is a young rider, and in his first year as a pro, he showed great maturity. We know it’s always a bit disappointing losing in a photo finish, especially if you were looking for the first win as a pro. But he took a result of respect, behind a strong sprinter as Ackermann. The team did an excellent job supporting him, but the guys also worked to help Santiago Buitrago, who closes in on KoM jersey. With two stages to go, it will be one of our goals”.
(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @TeamBahrainVictorious)
— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com