Jan Tratnik just a step to the win on the epic stage to Monte Zoncolan, and Damiano Caruso keeps the 3rd position in GC after Stage 14 of the Giro d’Italia.

Who would’ve expected that Jan Tratnik would pick Monte Zoncolan to try to take one more career victory on Giro d’Italia? Team Bahrain Victorious Slovenian rider and Lorenzo Fortunato (Eolo-Kometa Cycling Team) made this monumental Giro stage even more attractive until the very end. Both riders were part of the day’s breakaway that split on the ramps of the iconic Zoncolan ascent in the finale. Tratnik was the first to attack with about 10km to go, with only Fortunato managing to close the gap. Then, with 2.5km to go, the Italian debutant’s decisive acceleration at the Giro earned him a legendary solo win. Jan Tratnik came to the finish in second place, 26” adrift.

The steep and brutal slopes of the Zoncolan – with gradients up to 27 percent – seemed never going to end for Jan Tratnik, especially when he was chasing the race leader in the final kilometers. The Slovenian rider expressed his thoughts after an exhausting stage under heavy conditions: ” For me, for sure, it was the longest three kilometers in my life. It was just a never-ending story. So hard. I saw my rival in front of me all the time that little ahead, but it was simply the strongest one. Otherwise, I wanted to follow, but there was no power anymore in me for that cherry on a cake. As a team, we didn’t plan to go into the breakaway, but our tactics were to go to the front and be a safeguard to Damiano Caruso, our GC. It just happened that I was at the right place at the right time, and things opened up to me to go there for it.  I gave my all, and I am really satisfied with a 2nd place”. 

Giro d’Italia 2021 – 104th Edition – 14th stage Cittadella – Monte Zoncolan 205 km – 22/05/2021 – Damiano Caruso (ITA – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2021

It was a good day for Team Bahrain Victorious. Besides the exciting ride from Tratnik, the team was delighted by the excellent ride of its captain Damiano Caruso. The Italian rider scored a top ten result, and above all, he maintained his 3rd place overall on a brutal day. 

Damiano Caruso: “These steep gradients don’t suit me. Nevertheless, I was able to manage the situation. I think that climbing at his own pace was the best thing to do. I never faced the climb on the other side of the Zoncolan, but I hope to have never to ride it if it is like this one. It is an ascent worth of its reputation. No doubt”.

Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) kept the Maglia Rosa and has shown resistance to the attack from Simon Yates (Team BikeExchange) in the last few hundred meters. Yates took the second position in GC over Vlasov with 1:33, and Damiano Caruso kept his third position with 1:51 seconds behind Bernal.

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

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com

Tratnik 5th on Stage 4 as Landa makes first move in the battle for GC

Stage 4 of the Giro d’Italia didn’t disappoint as the GC battle was brought to life by Mikel Landa on the final climb. It was a long and gruelling day in the saddle from Piacenza to Sestola, with riders taking on 187km in the pouring rain.

The stage started with an early breakaway of over 20 riders, including Jan Tratnik. The break saw two riders attack with the gap from the peloton going over 6 minutes as they took a minute over the rest of the breakaway.

With 20km to go, and on the final descent, Bahrain Victorious took control with the descending expertise of Matej Mohorič while Rafael Valls pushed the pace on the climbs causing riders to fall off the back of the group. The opportunity came with 4km to go, and Landa was the first of the GC favourites to attack, dropping some of the big favourites.

The accelerations came a bit too late for the stage victory, but it ignited the GC. Tratnik held on to 5th after being in the breakaway all day, while Landa took time off some of his rivals in the GC.

Giro d’Italia 2021 – 104th Edition – 4th stage Piacenza – Sestola 187 km – 11/05/2021 – Jan Tratnik (SLO – Bahrain Victorious) – photo Tommaso Pelagalli/BettiniPhoto©2021

Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates) managed to win the stage in the breakaway while Alessandro De Marchi (Israel Start-Up) moved into the Maglia Rosa.

Gorazd Štangelj, Head Sports Director, commented on the strong ride from the team today:
“Let’s say that today’s stage was a kind of strange one. This morning, we knew that it might be difficult to predict what would happen in a stage like that and riding this kind of stage under heavy rain and hard conditions. Everybody was sure that the Maglia Rosa would get a new owner, so nobody could’ve been sure who will control the race and what will happen. It was normal that 25 riders went in a breakaway out of, let’s say, potential and possible GC, and I maybe do not completely agree with the tactics of some strong teams, but then, we did our race. In the end, I may say that we tried to race in the best possible way to arrive in the finale aggressively. We were aware that Mikel had good legs and that we have a strong team, and I find it important to mention that Jan Tratnik managed to go successfully in the breakaway and had a great race. But unfortunately, the final kilometres were a bit too steep for him to bring home something more. The whole team did a great job today, and all our riders did their job, and even more than that was. We really rode as one”.

Mikel Landa shared his thoughts after the stage: “It was all day up and down, and the weather also made the race difficult. In the end, I look at my rivals, and I didn’t see looking good faces around me, so I tried. After the stage, I can smile, but 20 km before the finish line, I didn’t smile at all. I hope to recover a bit, and then we will have to face a challenging stage again, tomorrow and further on”.

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

— Simona Mazzoleni to bahraincyclingteam.com