Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team | Sonny Colbrelli 10th at his Flanders debut!
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Sonny Colbrelli 10th at his Flanders debut!

  |   Press

ROONDE VAN VLAANDEREN, Antwerpen – Oudenaarde – 260,8 km


Oudenaarde, Belgium, 2nd April – After an exciting race, full of unexpected turns, a lot of crashes and also losses, Sonny Colbrelli managed to achieve a top ten position in his first Roonde van Vlaanderen. The race was not so fortunate for Chun Kai Feng, who will be spending the night in a hospital, with a minor concussion.


There is no better place on earth than Flanders on the day of the major classic race. An unbelievable atmosphere created by fans of cycling, their passion for sports and, of course, top class athletes and their performance. Flanders race with its 101th edition today was almost as a national holiday. Even before the gathering of the crowds, a beautiful sunny morning, with a minor west wind of 5 km/h and dry roads guaranteed, that we could expect a great race and 6 hours of team tactics and challenges for all riders.


Soon after a few kilometres into the race a breakaway group of 8 riders was formed, but none of the BAHRAIN MERIDA riders joined in. The breakaway got their maximum gap of a little more then 11 minutes to the peloton.


There were big fights in peloton before every turn or a narrow road, where all riders lost a lot of energy. One such situation also caused a crash of our rider, Chun Kai Feng. »Feng is in the hospital, because he suffered a head concussion – medium level,” said Dr. Guardascione, team doctor, about Feng who crashed at today’s race. “He didn’t lose his consciousness, there were no fractures of the bones. But more for safety reasons he will stay tonight in the hospital with me. He needs one or two weeks of recovery,« concluded Dr. Guardascione, who immediately joined Feng in the hospital.


A bit after 150th km Ivan Garcia Cortina also had a similar accident, but without any injuries, and he was able to continue the race. Later on, after 100 km the peloton was broken into more groups and the riders were continuously regrouping. The famous Oude Kwaremont with narrow cobbled streets was the hot spot where the race changed it’s course.


Big favorites like Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Alexander Kristoff, Niki Terpstra and Quick-Step Floors duo, Philippe Gilbert and Tom Boonen, were all having huge support from their teammates and the crowd. 20 kilometres to finish, Philippe Gilbert made a gap that was comfortable for him to the very end and after a crash of Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet and Stijn Vanderbergh it became even more obvious that Gilbert would be the winner of the 101st Ronde Van Vlaaneen.


Sonny Colbrelli was keeping the front position of the 3rd group and he was hoping for a better position before the finish. His opponents closed him, but Sonny gave his best to assure the 10th place, which was his and team’s main plan.


Sonny Colbrelli said after the race: “It’s a win having finished it. At the beginning I had very bad feelings, but I gritted my teeth. I was in a good form, but after Friday’s crash, I couldn’t expect too much from my legs. I felt pain in my foot, but tried to resist and finished in the front. Too bad for the sprint, because I bumped a little with another rider, but on Friday I couldn’t even think to finish the Flanders in the top ten. So I can be happy and I look forward to the next races. It was a good experience for the future.”

Tristan Hoffman, sports director, commented today’s race: »It was a very hard day. Breakaway went early. Unfortunately we had some bad crashes with the boys, but that happens in the races like the one today. We hope they will be ok. Sonny finished 10th. He did a very good race and he should be happy. In the sprint at the end he could be a bit better, but for a guy, who is not used to racing in Belgium, it was fantastic. The other guys did a good job for Sonny, so he could finish using less energy and be among the best.«

Gorazd Štangelj, Head of Sports directors of the team added: “This is the crazy race. We have been in a lost situation 100 times and than we came back 100 times. We lost 5 riders in the crashes and also we have had some bad crashes. Borut, Bonifazio, Feng never came back. We were loosing riders in every section. The race started very bad for us, we missed the breakaway. Then we survived all those unlucky moments. For Sonny – he really is a fighter, a strong guy. That is his first Vlaanderen. He is a really good rider, he survived, he was a bit unlucky in the sprint, but he was in top ten. That is even more than we expected from him.”


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