Bahrain Victorious took another second place at Benelux Tour. After Phil Bauhaus was runner-up on opening day, Sonny Colbrelli was close to the victory on stage 5 (Riemst-Bilzen, 192km), with Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) beating the Italian Champion on the slightly uphill finish.
Today’s course, rolling in the Belgian provinces of Limburg and Liège, featured a hilly section, including 15 côtes, but a finale that could represent the last opportunity for pure sprinters to shine at this year’s edition.
An early breakaway of 3 riders formed after 28km, but it was always kept under control by the peloton, which closed the gap before the last lap of the final local circuit, with riders crossing the finish line 3 times before the finish.
Bahrain Victorious sprinter Phil Bauhaus wasn’t feeling good and couldn’t keep pace with the main group. With the German rider out of the game, it was then up to Sonny Colbrelli and Matej Mohorič to play their cards. A series of attempts of attacks enlightened the finale, including those of the Slovenian Champion, who tried to jump clear with about 5km to go. But with sprinters teams controlling the race, it was clear that a restricted group of fast men would fight for the win. The Italian Champion was the one who opened the sprint after a perfect leadout of his teammates with Mohorič as the last man, but the Australian Caleb Ewan put on a powerful acceleration to outsprint him.
Sonny Colbrelli: “It’s a pity not to have finalized with a victory the excellent job done by my teammates. We raced well, and I’m confident ahead of the last two stages. I will try again, that’s for sure”.
Rolf Aldag, Bahrain Victorious SD: “It was a pretty intense stage since the beginning, as it was the last chance for sprinter’s team to take a win. We adjusted our strategies during the race, as our initial plan was to win the stage with Phil Bauhaus, but we knew that the race might be harder than on paper, so we left it open for Colbrelli and Mohorič. Moreover, Phil didn’t feel good today. He’s struggling a bit with his health since the Deutschland Tour. So we made the race for Sonny, with also the option to a late attack from Matej. Everybody executed his job excellently, keeping the guys on the front. Haussler kept the pace high and was still there in the leadout as Wright did. Before that, Milan and Sieberg positioned the team on the narrow roads. So all in all, we are satisfied, although it’s a second place again, and only again a matter of some metres. Anyway, we must accept that we can be beaten by someone who is in perfect shape.”
Benelux Tour continues tomorrow with the final two stages. A very demanding weekend, with a climbing stage 6 and the cobblestones on the last day.
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— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com