A herculean effort from Team Bahrain Victorious’ leaders on the uphill TT that closed the 75th Tour de Romandie saw Swiss Gino Mäder finish 2nd on GC in his homeland, and Damiano Caruso move up 12 places to 6th.
Caruso, starting in 18th overall, had briefly taken the hotseat from more established climbers Thibaut Pinot (GFC) & Steven Kruijswijk (TJV), before Aleksandr Vlasov (BOH), – eventual stage & race winner – went just over a minute quicker on the 15.8km course.
Meanwhile, after finishing with the leaders the previous day, Mäder had gone 3rd fastest on the TT behind Vlasov and Simon Geschke (COF), which put the local favourite on the provisional podium with the overnight green (Rohan Dennis, TJV) and white (Juan Ayuso, UAE) jerseys still on the 7.7km ascent of Saint-Luc to Villars. Both went significantly slower than Mäder & Caruso, and slipped off the podium.
Finishing 2nd in the Team Classification, with a stage win and a rider on the podium, it has been another successful week for the squad.
“I’m really happy with today, because it was a really good performance, and I’m happy for Gino too, finishing 2nd on GC,” said Caruso after the stage. “Without the bad luck yesterday, maybe it could have been even better, but that’s bike racing”
The Italian had been in contention for the overall before a mechanical 300 metres from the line on the summit finish of stage 4 meant he lost 38 seconds. But there can be no doubt that the team has achieved its objectives in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.
Lead Sports Director Neil Stephens was delighted with how the week had played out: “It’s been fantastic racing, and we’ve been involved every single day trying something. It’s a bit disappointing that Damiano had his mechanical yesterday in the final, but to walk away with not only the stage win but Gino 2nd on GC too, is more than what we expected and very very satisfying.”
Mäder, already a stage winner at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de Suisse, has been the centre of media attention throughout the week. He confirmed his status as one of the rising stars of the peloton with a best ever overall result in a stage race, following his 5th at last year’s Vuelta a España, but the 25 year old surprised even himself with his achievement on this final day.
“We hoped for a podium, but I didn’t really believe in it until I crossed the finish line! I’m super happy, Damiano performed great, and as a team we rode well together the whole week, pushing each other. Yesterday was a bit of a frustrating day, but I think we bounced back pretty well – we can enjoy what was a good week!”
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— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com