Nibali takes 2nd place in Queen Stage of Tour of Croatia
Učka, 22nd April – After an exciting last kilometers of the 5th, Queen Stage of Tour of Croatia, Vincenzo Nibali came second, after a good performance and support of his teammates throughout the race. The whole day was marked with the shocking news of Michele Scarponi’s accident.
Great energy in BAHRAIN MERIDA Team in a sunny morning in Poreč didn’t last long today. A shocking news that the world of cycling lost MICHELE SCARPONI, an idol, sincere teammate and friend of many, involved in the world of cycling, came in the morning hours. All BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team – Vincenzo, Franco, Manuele, Valerio, Javier, Kosta, Domen, sport directors Paolo Slongo and Gorazd Štangelj, our mechanics, masseurs and other riders and staff, on races and at home – we were all speechless and full of memories of all the moments we spent with him. The atmosphere of today’s opening ceremony of course reflected the state of all the riders and the feelings of sadness and loss were present through the whole race.
After the start in Poreč and just before Pazin, a breakaway of 3 riders was formed with a 1,5 min gap. Also the first climb to Učka was leaded by the 3 riders, while BAHRAIN MERIDA Team was in the front of the peloton. The climb was followed by a long descent to the cost of Kvarner Bay, then another climb to Kastav (Cat. 3) and from there race led to the city center of Rijeka. In Opatija, right on the coast began the final and decisive climb back to Učka, and that’s where the group became compact.
BAHRAIN MERIDA riders showed excellent performance in giving support to Vincenzo Nibali, with the goal of keeping the first position in general classification after the stage, that might be decisive for the whole race.
In the last 7 km, on the final climb to Učka, just before finish line, three top riders were fighting to take the stage win: Vincenzo Nibali, Caja Rural Jaime Roson and CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider Jan Hirt. The Spanish rider took today’s victory and Vincenzo Nibali passed the finish line in as runner up. Jaime Roson Caja Rural took over the leading position in general classification at Tour of Croatia.
Speaking after the finish Sport Director Paolo Slongo comments the sad news of Scarponi’s death and today’s stage: “Scarponi had been Vincenzo’s teammate for the last three years and he was very important for him. We spent together training camps, many times with his family and wonderful twins too. We shared with him a lot of moments. The news shocked all of us this morning. We’re very sad, but our job – that was Michele’s too – is racing and so we started today’s stage of Tour of Croatia anyway. Maybe with a knot in our stomach, but this is part of our job. I can’t say that this news influenced the performance of riders today, but for sure the mood of Vincenzo above all was not one of the best, but I don’t know if this influenced the victory or not. Today’s winner was really strong and he deserved to take the stage. At the finish they were three riders fighting for the first place and Vincenzo is not so fast. Anyway he tried to sprint, but he was second. What it’s important according to me ahead of next aims is that the team worked very well and that rode full speed on the climb”.
The Italian Manuele Boaro was shocked as well because of Scarponi’s tragedy: “We woke up with the bad news. I thought all day long about that. Life is strange sometimes. As per today’s race, we controlled it and stayed in the front all the day, taking responsibility on the last climb. Vincenzo lost the sprint and the leader’s jersey, but the Tour of Croatia will finish tomorrow, so let’s see what happens”.