A photo-finish was needed to determine the winner on Stage 2 of the Saudi Tour, and this time Team Bahrain Victorious beat Jayco AlUla to the line, with the young Italian sprinter Jonathan Milan beating Stage 1 winner Dylan Groenewegen.
It was another windy stage in the open desert roads of AlUla, and the peloton remained intact for most of the day, navigating through the headwinds. But 30km from the finish line, the road turned left, and crosswinds split the peloton into three groups. While the eventual race winner, Jonathan Milan stayed in group 1, the rest of our riders were caught in the second group.
With our GC hopeful Santiago Buitrago in the second group, the rest of the team put in a monumental effort to close the 30-second gap and bring it all back together with 6km to go. In the last km, team Jayco AlUla had 2 riders for Dylan Groenewegen’s lead-out, and Milan latched on to Dylan’s wheel. With a few hundred meters to go, Milan launched his sprint early catching Groenewegen off guard and managed to hold his effort to the line before being caught.
Jonathan Milan: “I’m super happy about this win. It was a big goal of mine from the last year when I saw that this Tour can be important in the future for me. I want to say big thanks to my teammates, they did an amazing job today, and they helped me until the final, thanks to them. Again, I’m super happy with this result for me and for the team.”
SD Enrico Poitschke: “It was as expected, a hard stage with lots of wind, and our goal was to win the stage and not to lose time with Santiago in GC. The guys did a fantastic job. They supported Santiago and Johnny. Jonathan stayed in the first echelon, especially the last 30km when it was the real crosswind. We knew it will be a hard final, we knew Jonathan is in great shape and that he can win the stage, which he did at the end. It is a very nice victory for the whole team and each rider has a part in this victory it’s very important that we worked as a team. Also, we didn’t lose time on GC with Santi.”
Photos by Sprint Cycling and Pauline Ballet