Despite some ghastly weather, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM had a good reason to celebrate at the Paris-Nice stage race: At the end of the second stage Sonny Colbrelli kept his cool and beat all of his strong rivals in the sprint to the line. For both Colbrelli and the team, this was the first win in the Worldtour.
After the first seasonal win scored by Ramunas Navardauskas in Argentina, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM had to settle for lesser results. The riders repeatedly scored a number of podium and top5 results, but the second win remained out of reach. At the Paris-Nice stage race, things did not look as if this was going to change on a short notice. Rain and strong winds turned the first stage into a real battle of attrition, and like many others, the riders in dark blue, red and gold had no reason to celebrate. Soon after the start of the second stage, the peloton split into echelons again due to strong winds and rain, and with Niccolo Bonifazio the team’s designated leader for flat high-speed sprints had no choice but to abandon the race early on.
But for the final hour of racing various groups merged again, and after a wet and fast 185 kilometers, a sprint of a first peloton had to decide for the win in Amilly. Sonny Colbrelli was skilfully piloted to the rear wheel of the previous day’s stage winner Arnaud Demare by his BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM mates. From there Colbrelli patiently waited for the right moment to place his acceleration. The Italian took the lead and no one managed to get past him before the finish line. Thus Colbrelli got to celebrate an emotional premiere as this was the first Worldtour win for both him and his team. Throughout the upcoming stages of Paris-Nice, the team will be focussing on protecting Ion Izagirre as the team’s designated leader for the overall standings.
As for the past weekend, the riders of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM missed out on scoring top results. At the 11th edition of Strade Bianche Ondrej Cink was the positive surprise. On the unpaved gravel sections in Tuscany the young Czech rider profited from his experience as a pro mountainbiker, crossing the finish line in Siena in 18th position. One day later the team rode aggressively in the finale of the GP Larciano, but this effort came a bit too late to catch a group of strong riders that had gone up the road. Thus Giovanni Visconti was the team’s first finisher in 15th. As for the wind-battered first stage of Paris-Nice, Ion Izagirre was the only rider of the team who could keep his time loss within a tight limit.
75th Paris - Nice
2nd stage: Rochefort-en-Yvelines - Amilly, 195km
1. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 4:20.59 hours
2. John Degenkolb, GER, st
3. Arnaud Demare, FRA, st