Another good racing day for BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team in Andalusia
Mancha Real, February 16th – 2nd Stage of Vuelta Ciclista a Andalusia was a triumphant one for BAHRAIN MERIDA. Ion Izaguirre took 4th place, Ondrej Cink 11th and Javier Moreno 12th, also awarded again as the Best Andalusian. Beside that Antonio Nibali won the 1st mountain stage of today’s race.
The 2nd Stage of Vuelta Ciclista a Andalusia is a mountain stage with many different and diverse climbs, but sunny weather and a N/NW wind of 5 km/h indicated that it could become yet another great stage for BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team.
Harald Morscher and Vladimir Miholjević, team directors said in the morning, just before the start of 2nd Stage, that the tactics and plan for our team were similar to the ones yesterday – to cover our leaders Izaguirre, Moreno and Cink and help them with the breakaway, if there will be any from the side of Nibali, Cortina, Novak and Arashiro. The goal was to setup the position for performance on tomorrow’s Time Trail, especially for Ion Izaguirre, since he is the current Spanish Time Trial Champion.
As soon as today’s stage began, a group of 5 riders broke away from the group and were enlarging the gap. In the early phase the teams started to take good positions for the first climb. Our team was keeping solid positions in the peloton, heading to Alto Valle Puerto Viejo on 1.188 m/asl, second highest peak of the stage (Cat.3). Antonio Nibali showed a great performance throughout the climb and won the 1st mountain stage of today’s race with a group of five respective riders: Belgians Wellens and Meurisse and Austrians Preidler and Großschartner. They all together made a gap of aprox. 7,5 minutes.
Our team block was permanently at the front part of the peloton, behind the Movistar, Trek and Sky blocks. At 50 km to go, Wellens and Großschanter made a little gap ahead of Antonio Nibali and Preidler and at the same time the gap to the peloton dropped to a little less than 6 minutes.
Heading towards the climb to Puerto de les 7 Pilillas (930 m/asl, Cat.2) at 43,6 km to go, Tim Wellens made a gap of 30 seconds ahead of Antonio NIbali, Priedler and Großschantner and started the downhill. Antonio Nibali passed 3rd over the Puertode les 7 Pilillas. At that moment the leading group position in the peloton was held by Trek; Bahrain Merida Cycling Team was at the middle part of the peloton.
At about 37 km to go Tim Wellens fell, but continued the race and kept the same difference of 6 minutes. 7 km later Antonio Nibali was aprox. 1 minute behind Tim Wellens and 5 minutes in front of peloton. At The Sea of Olives and 24 km to go the gap went down to less than 4 minutes. Teams Trek and Sky and their blocks were leading the peloton to Puerto de Torres (Cat 3.). 13.8 km to the finish Tim Wellens was keeping the gap of 1,30 minutes and Antonio Nibali was back in the peloton, giving his best and full support to his teammates. By entering the town of Mancha Real, 10.5 km to go, the gap went to 40 seconds.
During the last and terminate climb, Comienza Puerto, with long and hard climb of 5.4 km to the finish line at Sierra Peňa del Aguila, the group caught Wellens.
Our three riders, Izaguirre, Moreno and Cink, invested all their strength and implemented a strong strategy from Puerto de Torres (1.270 m/asl, Cat.3) to Comienza Puerto. All the way to the last meters they were continuously taking good positions and supporting Ion Izaguirre at the very front part of peloton. In the last 1.5 km Ion Izaguirre was doing great and started his chase of the leading group. 4 km to go Mikel Landa started to break away, then Alberto Contador took the lead, but Valverde, Pinot and Ion Izaguirre took over first four positions. Pinot exploded in the last few meters at the very end and took the victory of today’s mountain stage.
Again a spectacular finish!
Our Ion Izaguirre took 4th place, Ondrej Cink 11th and Javier Moreno 12th!
Immediately after the race, Ion Izaguirre said that it was a great race and that he is thankful to all his teammates and that he is looking forward to tomorrow’s time trail with a good feeling. Ion is very motivated for this big challenge for him and the whole team.
Antonio Nibali expressed his great satisfaction with his performance and his contribution to the team.
Harald Morscher, team director, thanked all our riders and complimented them on how they carried out all the strategic elements that they agreed on before the race. He is happy for Antonio Nibali, who took responsibility and had the courage to go to the breakaway and also that he showed a big heart and maturity. The same goes for Ondrej Cink for his performance on today’s and also yesterday’s race.
“As we have a big challenge tomorrow at the Time Trial, we have to focus forward and tune the team and staff and be very precise for time trail. I believe that we can achieve a lot tomorrow as well,” added Vladimir Miholjević, team director.
Classification of Stage 2:
- Thibaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ 4:44:03
- Alberto Contador (SPA) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:03
- Alejandro Valverde (SPA) Movistar Team 0:00:07
- Ion Izaguirre (SPA) Bahrain Merida
- Mikel Landa (SPA) Team Sky 0:00:0
11. Ondrej Cink (CZE) Bahrain Merida
12. Javier Moreno (SPA) Bahrain Merida
73. Domen Novak (SLO) Bahrain Merida
78. Ivan Garcia (SPA) Bahrain Merida
133. Yukiya Arashiro (JPN) Bahrain Merida
138. Antonio Nibali (ITA) Bahrain Merida
General classification after Stage 2;
- Alberto Contador (SPA) Trek-Segafredo 8:46:33
- Tribaut Pinot (FRA) FDJ 0:00:03
- Alejandro Valverde (SPA) Movistar Team 0:00:05
- Ion Izaguirre (SPA) Bahrain Merida
12. Ondrej Cink (CZE) Bahrain Merida 00:01:15
13. Javier Moreno (SPA) Bahrain Merida
84. Domen Novak (SLO) Bahrain Merida 00:22:34
86. Ivan Garcia (SPA) Bahrain Merida 00:24:32
113. Antonio Nibali (ITA) Bahrain Merida 00:29:17
122. Yukia Arashiro (JAP) Bahrain Merida 00:32:29
Team classification after Stage 2:
1. TEAM SKY – SKY 14:12:40
2. BAHRAIN – MERIDA TBM 01:08
3. FDJ 03:28
4. MOVISTAR TEAM MOV 03:36
5. TEAM SUNWEB SUN 03:42
Photographer: Miwa IIJIMA