The Benelux Tour started today with an opportunity for the fast men. Phil Bauhaus was there to contest the sprint, but he was beaten to the line by Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) in a restricted bunch gallop.
As expected, the wind played a big part in the outcome of the day. The pan-flat course stage 1 (Surhuisterveen > Dokkum, 169.6km) was running entirely in Netherland, in Friesland, in a very windy region. Our riders were not surprised by the echelons, which caused significant gaps in the general classification.
It didn’t take long for the day’s breakaway to form, and a 7-man group managed to stay away for a large part of the race with a maximum advantage over 4 minutes.
Bahrain Victorious was one of the most active teams to control the action, with the peloton split by the wind in several groups. The first group, including 5 of our riders, eventually caught back the escapees with 30Km to go, forming a group of about 30 men.
On the final circuit, it was all about positioning and taking the precious seconds at the Golden Km for the GC fight. Matej Mohorič and Sonny Colbrelli went for that, accomplishing one of the goals of today’s stage. Then they focussed on working for the other aim, a stage win for Phil Bauhaus. The teammates delivered the German sprinter perfectly, but he was a bit boxed in and lost few seconds in the momentum.
Phil Bauhaus: “I was on Merlier’s wheel, and unfortunately, I couldn’t pass him. He was the strongest today. I’m a bit disappointed because it’s too many second places for me. But in the end, I think it was a super good day for us, especially for our GC guys, and I hope we can do better in the next few days”.
Rolf Aldag, Bahrain Victorious SD: “The race went nearly perfect for us. We just missed 2 meters at the finish line to win the stage, but the guys were always where they had to be. In the crosswinds sections, we were always in the front group. We controlled the race very well. We also had the Golden Km as a goal today. That means extra bonuses for our GC guys, and we took them. We did everything nearly perfect. Maybe at the sprint, we should have approached the front from further. But we don’t have anything to blame.
We are in shape, and the execution was perfect. Nice to see. Following the race in the car was a pleasure. The guys know what they’re doing: talking to each other, helping each other. They are there for each other. So a pretty good day except for missing few meters at the line”.
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