At the end of the second of three consecutive stages over 200kms, Jonathan Milan found himself unexpectedly at the sharp end of the race as the sprinters reached their top speeds. With 300 metres to go the 21-year-old was in 10th position, behind some of the greatest sprinters of the modern era: Bennett, Viviani, Demare, & yesterday’s winner Kooij to name but a few. Having realised the team’s designated sprinter, Phil Bauhaus, wasn’t on his wheel, Milan put his head down and passed those more established names on the left hand side, keeping pace with Pascal Ackermann & eventual winner Gerben Thijssen, and shutting out Olav Kooij to take 3rd place.
It was an extraordinary effort for a rider who not only isn’t the team’s sprinter and is just returning to road racing after a long break, but who had also worked tirelessly all day for Bauhaus.
“Phil had a flat tire with 18k to go so I waited for him, and we came back to the group together with 7k to go. Then he went full gas to find Heino [Heinrich Haussler]’s wheel so I did the same on the other side of the peloton. I arrived behind Heino and tried to wait for Phil in the last kilometre to bring him to the best position possible for the sprint. When I didn’t see him I just did my best, and with 200m to go I decided I would try for the sprint, but my legs were gone, I was super tired, on the limit for the last 20k!”
The stage was 205.6 largely flat kilometres through the Eastern part of Poland, at one point (in the town of Hrubieszöw), passing just 5km from the border with Ukraine. A 4-man breakaway had established an early lead of nearly 7 minutes, but as expected, were brought back in the finishing town of Zamość with 1,500 metres left.
Milan’s performance was further confirmation of his talent & potential, as well as the team ethic within the Bahrain line-up at the race. And after a difficult few months, it was an important day for the Italian himself.
“For me this result is more than 3rd place, because after 2 months out, for me to come here and be competitive, and to be able to help out my teammates is fantastic. So I’m super happy with this today; it’s more than a 3rd place.”
Stage 3 is the first of the significant days for the GC contenders. Our leader, Pello Bilbao, is well-placed overall and focussed, ahead of the 237.9kms between Kraśnik & Przemyśl.
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