Sonny Colbrelli, BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team, wins 2nd stage of Paris-Nice
ROCHEFORT–EN-YVELINES – AMILLY – 195 km
Amilly, France, March 6th – Sonny Colbrelli won his first World Tour race today, on 2nd Stage of Paris-Nice, and brought first European victory to BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team.
After hard work of the whole team throughout the entire 2nd stage and after lots of changes, breakaways, groupings and regroupings, there was the whole peloton in the front again only few kilometers before the finish. Our sprinter, Sonny Colbrelli, who stayed focused and concentrated also in the most challenging conditions, grabbed his chance for a great sprint in the last few hundred meters. With today’s final act he proved once again what kind of rider he is and how tough and explosive he can be, even after such an extraordinary hard race.
After yesterday’s very hard, windy and wet 1st Stage, we believed that the conditions couldn’t be worse, but today’s 2nd Stage gave us even harder race with extraordinary weather. It was a hard and challenging day for all the riders to fight against each other and against the strong side and tail wind. The temperature also dropped to 4 *C.
The strategy for the race was to assist and help Ion Izagirre again, to help him finish the race on the highest possible position and to keep the best possible position for high GC. All riders were working very hard from the start and the discipline was high. Just after few kilometers from the start the race had a really fast tempo. Borut Božič had a crash at one roundabout just after 10 km from the start. He continued immediately after a mechanic changed his bike. Later on Niccolo Bonifazio had a flat tire and it didn’t take too much time to connect with the others in 4th group. The breakaway of 9 riders formed very soon and went up to 2 minutes from the chasing group, and a little more from the 3rd and 4th group.
Peloton with 5 of our riders came up to 45 seconds from the breakaway group. With 20 km to go P. Gilbert form QuickStep team decided for a runaway and made a difference of 37 seconds. The other riders from the breakaway connected with the peloton. With 8 km to go Gilbert had a gap of 27 seconds, but he couldn’t keep it and just a few kilometers before the finish the peloton caught him and that’s when a real «Sonny Show» started.
Ion Izagirre and Luka Pibernik worked very well from the beginning. Ion was in the front part of the peloton and also Luka Pibernik played an important role in the very front of the peloton by keeping the front position. Grega Bole was focused and worked hard throughout the race. Sonny Colbrelli was very calm during the race, always keeping in the middle of any group and waiting for the race to develop in the ideal scenario for him. And so it did. Sonny grabbed the oppurtunity and won his first World tour title and brought the first European victory to Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling team.
Sonny Colbrelli, our winner, said after the race: “It’s such a special day. My first World Tour win, the biggest win of my career. I’m really happy. It has been a really hard stage, with heavy rain and a lot of echelons. I did a great sprint. I feared they could catch me in the final meters, but I tried to resist. I was riding at Paris-Nice for the first time, to prepare for Milano-Sanremo, because I would like to change my approach to that important race, but now I’m here and there will also be other stages that suit me, so I will focus on Milano-Sanremo after this race.”
Philippe Mauduit, sports director, added: «It was another crazy day, with rain and strong winds. But we had that one chance and we knew, we have to take it 100 %. When I saw Sonny and Luka coming back from the group; I said immediately that we have to be focused for the final. And after slightly modified tactics Sonny finished first! For the upcoming Stages – with this weather we will see what happens day by day. Today was a happy day, yesterday not so much, and we will see what tomorrow brings.»
(Pictures attached can be used for editorial and non commercial usages only and are copyright protected – © Team Bahrain-Merida/ Miwa IIJIMA / BettiniPhoto)