Pello Bilbao Third On Giro d’Italia Opener

It was a strong start for Team Bahrain Victorious on the opening stage of Giro d’Italia as Pello Bilbao showed took an impressive third place.

The Grande Partenza of the 105th edition in Hungary saw the riders take on a 195km course from Budapest to a tricky final climb up to Visegrád. The 5.6km climb had an average 4.2% gradient meaning only a handful of sprinters would be fighting it out for the Maglia Rosa. The peloton had an easy day on the saddle until that finale, controlling the two-man breakaway that was brought back with 14km to go.

On the final climb, attempts of Naesen (AG2R-Citroën) and Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) to anticipate a selected sprint were unsuccessful, and as expected, few riders battled to contest the first stage win of this Giro. Among them was our climber Pello Bilbao, who is proven on fast finishes. The favourites of the day, Girmay (Intermarchè-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), accelerated in the final hundred meters alongside Ewan, who crashed right in front of our Basque rider. Bilbao finished off his sprint in 3rd position, behind the winner and first Maglia Rosa Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Girmay (Intermarchè-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), who crossed the line in 2nd place.

Pello Bilbao: “It was not easy to properly understand how I was feeling today as the stage was going relatively easy. Therefore I didn’t know how I could be during the final climb. I knew today could be a good day for me, and in the last 30 km, I rode focused on my aim. Phil gave me great support, positioning me before the right corner. In the end, I lost the position with a crash at 2 km to go, but happily, I recovered and was ready for the final attack. Taking the 3rd place in the sprint is a good way to start the Giro”.

Giro d’Italia 2022 – 105th Edition – Teams Presentation – 04/05/2022 – Heroes’ Square Budapest – Bahrain Victorious – photo Luca Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Sprintcycling @ChrisAuld @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com


Day 2 of the Tour of the Alps was the Pelli & Pello show, as Sports Director Franco Pelizzotti masterminded a perfect performance from Bahrain Victorious, which was finished off by Pello Bilbao on an uphill finish in Lana.

It is the Spaniard’s 3rd career win at the Tour of the Alps, and means that he wears the green jersey for the first time. A great day was made even better when news came through that Santiago Buitrago had taken the white jersey for the best young rider as well!

There was climbing straight from the start in Primiero/S. Martin di Castrozza – the cat 2 Passo Rolle, on whose slopes a 10 man breakaway formed, including GC danger men Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) & Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers), along with our own Hermann Pernsteiner.

Halfway through the stage the break had around 2’30”, as the main test of the day began: the Passo della Mendola; 16kms at an average gradient of 6.5%. From this moment, our team led the peloton right until the final few metres in Lana – nearly 80kms on the front!

With 30k remaining, Sivakov and Michael Storer (Groupama-FDJ) were over a minute in front, but Pernsteiner (who had dropped back to join his teammates), Buitrago, Bilbao, and Mikel Landa – who worked like a one-man engine – pulled the Bahrain train closer to the escapees as the kilometres ticked down.

Having been confident of fighting it out between themselves for the win, incredibly the duo in front were caught with 9.6k left, and still the red & orange jerseys dominated on the front.

As the bunch entered the uphill 2 kilometre drag to the line, Bahrain Victorious provided a lead out of which a sprint team would have been proud, leaving Bilbao an uncontested run in, and a chance to raise both arms ‘victorious’.

Tour of the Alps 2022 – 45th Edition – Primiero/S. Martino di Castrozza – Lana 154,1 km – 19/04/2022 – Pello Bilbao (ESP – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Massimo Fulgenzi/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

We worked at our own pace, were super confident, and we always believed. The team did all the work, I just did the last 100metres to put the cherry on the cake. We really demonstrated that cycling is a team sport today,” said the stage winner afterwards.

After a 2nd place yesterday, today’s triumph means Pello takes a 6 second advantage over Romain Bardet into Wednesday’s Queen stage. Meanwhile, 22 year old Colombian Buitrago is also in the top 10, and leads the young riders’ classification.

There is plenty to play for in the next 3 days, and Bilbao, Buitrago, & Bahrain are in pole position:

After being close to victory here a few times, this year I have the responsibility to fight for the jersey. We have a powerful team, with Mikel and Santiago near in the GC too. That’s going to be important because we expect a crazy race like we’ve already seen for the first two stages.

Tour of the Alps 2022 – 45th Edition – 2nd stage Primiero/S. Martino di Castrozza – Lana 154.1km – 19/04/2022 – Pello Bilbao (ESP – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Massimo Fulgenzi/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com


The 45th Tour of the Alps started on Monday with a 6-man Team Bahrain Victorious squad showing strongly on the front of the bunch throughout the day, before Pello Bilbao won a sprint for 2nd place behind stage winner Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën Team).

The Frenchman had been part of the initial breakaway which built up a lead of 7’45”, before the first climb, the category 2 Passo Brocon. It was Bahrain Victorious who were active at the front and pulled the peloton, reducing the gap to 4 minutes at the first KoM.

Bouchard was all alone at the front of the race by the top of the day’s other categorised climb, the 3rd cat Passo Gobbera, and with Ineos Grenadiers helping, there were 5 TBV riders pushing the pace as the leader’s advantage fell to 2’30”

It was down to a minute when the race entered its denouement – a 13.5k lap around Fiera di Primiero, including a kick to the finish with maximum gradients of 9%.

Bahrain Victorious were once again dominant in the chase, and although Bouchard managed to hold on for victory, 5 seconds behind, Bilbao came around and through a big group, passing 5 riders to take the sprint for second place ahead of rivals including Romain Bardet, Pavel Sivakov, Miguel Angel Lopez & Richie Porte.

Tour of the Alps 2022 – 45th Edition – ClesÝPrimiero/S. Martino di Castrozza 160,9 km – 18/04/2022 – Pello Bilbao (ESP – Bahrain Victorious) – Romain Bardet (FRA – Team DSM) – Vincenzo Albanese (ITA – EOLO – Kometa) – photo Luca Bettini/SprintCyclingAgency©2022

At one point we thought the race was lost. The peloton didn’t work together 100% but we tried to pull full in the last 5k and we were near,” said Bilbo after the stage.

The Basque rider, who finished 2nd overall here last year, takes a time bonus on the line to lie 9 seconds back in GC. Santiago Buitrago came over the line in 11th, and leader Mikel Landa made it 3 TBV riders in the top 25.

After that team performance, Bilbao added, “We showed that we can do great things in this race.

Stage 2 leaves from where stage 1 ended, and the race heads 153kms to Lana, with 2 serious climbs to contend with on the way.

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Sprintcycling @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com

Pello Bilbao 5th at Itzulia 

The six-day race in Itzulia and a hilly Basque country finished with the decisive queen stage on top of Arrate. It was an open finale until the last few kilometres. Pello Bilbao finished 6th today and 5th in general classification with one stage win on stage three.

Pello Bilbao commented on today’s stage and overall race: “The most important thing was the team spirit from the beginning until today. Today Gino did a fantastic job. On the first climb in Arrate, I didn’t have the best legs to follow the rhythm of the front group, but I knew that with the help of Gino and knowing a technical descent in the middle, I could join the front of the group again. I did like that, and when I arrived back to the group, I attacked in the front to make another selection. We collaborated quite well, but Remco (Quick-Step) and Daniel (Ineos) did a good job. They came back. In the last climb, with Gino’s help, I gave everything, but Ion (Cofidis) was stronger than me. Congrats to the guys on the podium. I am satisfied with the all week of racing and my performance.”

Sports Director Neil Stephens, satisfied after the entire race, commented: ”It’s been a fantastic six days of racing, full of emotions. We have been fighting for the stage wins and the whole week to get on the final podium. Obviously, the week’s highlight was Pello’s stage win on stage 3. But even today, at one moment, we were virtual leaders on GC. There were crashes, attacks, and all sorts of things. And unfortunately, Pello couldn’t go that far to the final breakaway once again. With a small crash in front of him, he lost a distance, and that was it. That was the last bit of energy he had spent. Unfortunately, we finished off the podium. But we are satisfied with racing. It was a fantastic day again. Everyone tried hard, everyone supported us well, all the staff, the riders, and great. I am satisfied, stage win, 5th overall, it was a satisfying week.”

(All pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usages only and are copyright @Sprintcycling @TeamBahrainVictorious)

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com