CRO Race featured the hardest day of the week on stage 5 from Opatija to Labin, on a 154 km course with 2969 m elevation and an uphill finish on cobbles. Bahrain Victorious riders were among the most active teams once again, being protagonists in the key moments of the race and taking a 6th podium in 5 days on the Croatian stage race.
The team faced today’s stage with a leader jersey to defend. With the tough course ahead, it was up to Matej Mohorič to try to overtake his teammate Jonathan Milan. The Italian sprinter, supported by Damiano Caruso and Hermann Pernsteiner, gave everything not to surrender and close the gap to the strong leader group – including also our riders Mohorič and Buitrago – that formed on the second of the 6 climbs of the day.
“We knew that it would be hard to defend the red jersey, but Jonny deserved all the help to try at least” Bahrain Victorious Sports Director Gorazd Stangelj explains. “As the team leader of the race, we didn’t have any teams helping us. Also, in the finale, Jonas Vingegaard proved to be the strongest, and in the leading group, he found collaboration to close the gap to a trio of riders with Santiago that took a small advantage in the final circuit”.
It was on the 2 loops of 11.5 km, including 2 KOM, that the big selection of the attackers’ group was made. Riders had to pass 3 times under the finish line, climbing a 1.7km road, cobbled in the last 500m. Rolland (B&B Hotels) accelerated on the favourites with 3km to go, but he was caught back just before the finish line in Labin. Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma) attacked in the final meters, followed by Onley (DSM), that was outsprinted by the Tour de France winner, taking his second stage at CRO Race and the overall lead.
Mohorič came in third place, two seconds behind: “Today was the toughest stage of the race. We knew other teams would up the pace on Ucka climb to try and distance Jonathan and take the race’s lead. We had teammates with him, but they couldn’t come back, so Santiago and I tried to go for the stage and GC in the final. There were many attacks, so everyone was on their limit for the finish sprint, and I was third, the best I could do Today. With bonification seconds I took in intermediate sprints, I now sit second overall at 8″, so the race is not over. Tomorrow we will try to go for the stage and maybe fight back overall”.
Jonathan Milan is still the leader in the points classification with one stage left.
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