Niccolò Bonifazio wins the first stage of Tour of Croatia
Tuesday, 16th April – Tour of Croatia couldn’t start better for BAHRAIN MERIDA Team. All of our riders showed a great performance today and Niccolò’s win was the cherry on the top.
The fourth edition of the Tour of Croatia started today in Osijek. It was the first and second longest stage, with 227 kilometres. A mostly flat stage was held in a pretty cold weather with heavy rain and front wind, but that didn’t stop the BAHRAIN MERIDA Team from an excellent performance. They worked like a well-oiled machine throughout the day and in the end held very good positions.
Niccolò Bonifazio started his sprint already some 400 meters to the finish line, but then he realized that he wouldn’t pull through, so he slowed down a bit, letting Andrea Guardini catch him. They even had a slight contact. But 100 m to the end Bonifazio pushed again, gave his best and brought the Team the first stage win in this race.
“Finally, I won, after a year and a half,” commented very satisfied Niccolò right after the race. “My last win was in Poland, where there was also a very long stage, so obviously long stages are good for me. I gained real strength just after 225 km. Team-mates brought me into very good position for the sprint. Matej’s strategy worked very well,” he emphasised. “I hope to recover well for tomorrow’s another challenging and very long stage where I will start much more relaxed after the fact I won today,” concluded Niccolò, who now holds the red and the blue jersey.
“Today’s win of course raised the team’s high expectations even more. But with the teamwork as showed today, nothing is impossible and we are looking forward to all the next stages,” said satisfied Sports Director Gorazd Štangelj.
Photo credits: KL-Photo; MIWA Iijima