Team Bahrain Victorious started Cro Race with a sprint victory on Stage 1 with Phil Bauhaus and finished in style, winning the overall with Stevie Williams.
It was on the penultimate queen stage where Stevie Williams moved into the lead after fantastic teamwork, and Stevie’s solo effort won the stage. And on the final day, despite attacks from contenders, Stevie showed strength and sprinted to second to secure the GC.
Up to six kilometres before the finish, Williams could ride comfortably in the main group. Still, after entering the last lap in the centre of Zagreb, Van Dijke and Norwegian Markus Hoelgaard attacked second and third in the overall standings, so Williams had to react and “cover” attacks.
The leading trio in the overall standings were in the first three positions, and in the last stage, in the final sprint in front of the Croatian National Theater, Van Dijke was the fastest.
Williams secured his biggest career win with a 13-second lead over second-placed Van Dijke and 17 seconds ahead of third-placed Hoelgaard.
After the first overall win of his career, Stevie Williams commented: “You never start a day expecting for sure, but I was confident in myself and in my team who did an excellent ride, and as a team, we were fantastic all day. It was a lot harder stage than I predicted. In the end, it was pretty tactical the way it all happened, but all stage, it was pretty demanding, windy, quite technical, lots of changes of directions. My teammates brought me perfectly to the circuit and gave me the best chance to stay safe and go for myself. As a team, we did a great job the whole week, and I am proud to be a part of it. This win is a team victory.”
Sports Director Franco Pellizotti commented on the team performance: “I am delighted. We go home with two victories and first place in general standing. It was a hard race and today’s last and decisive stage was also challenging. Despite a very demanding yesterdays’ queen stage when Stevie won and took red jersey, he was strong also today. I am satisfied with the whole team. This success is important for the team at the finish of the season. And especially for Stevie, who showed his great effort and physical strength after a tough and extended period of injuries.”
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