Team Bahrain Victorious shared their upcoming season plans over two virtual press conferences involving key riders: Mikel Landa, Pello Bilbao, Sonny Colbrelli, Damiano Caruso, Wout Poels, Dylan Teuns, Matej Mohorič, Fred Wright, Jack Haig and Jonathan Milan.
It was the first press conference under the new team name and the first opportunity for the journalists to engage with Vladimir Miholjević in his new role as Technical Director of the team.
“The team is entering its 5th season of existence, achieving nice results and racing with a clear aim to take a step forward in the upcoming year and in the future. We see improvement in the riders roster but also in the staff. The performance first ethos will continue to lead us into 2021. The team aims to offer the best possible support to the riders, the best technical equipment and research & development projects in cooperation with our technical partners. The most important card in our hands is the expertise of our coaches, sports directors and each and every staff member. I would also like to express our gratitude to the Kingdom of Bahrain and His Highness Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa for his support and shared vision through our journey in the past but also great vision and project in the future”.
The team will hold their first training camp in Altea Spain next week, for two weeks, with some of the riders heading straight to Volta Valenciana for the debut race of the season.
Speaking about the training camp, Miholjević said “3 blocks of 3 days training with rest day are scheduled in the plan. There will be important testing, especially for time trials. More importantly, the camp will pull all the new riders and new staff members together”.
Team Bahrain Victorious riders are looking forward to training together soon.
After a good off-season period, the team are all looking forward to the new season, highlighted by Mikel Landa: “I’ve had a very good rest. After the Liège-Bastogne-Liège, I stopped and recovered both my mind and my body, and now I’m ready for the new season. I want to start it in Andalucia, then we have to choose between Tirreno and Catalunya. For sure I will be racing in Itzulia. We’re waiting to see the course of the Giro d’Italia, but I would like to be there also. My goal is to win a Grand Tour, at the moment the Giro, then we will see. I would like to be competitive again and fight for the podium or victory at the Giro. My aim is to ride also the Tour de France. Grand Tours remain my main goal”.
Supporting Landa pursuing Grand Tours will be his teammates who were formidable at Tour de France: Bilbao, Caruso, Mohorič, Poels and Colbrelli.
Pello Bilbao is looking for this own opportunities when possible, after his impressive display at last seasons Giro: “This year’s Giro will be a great opportunity for Mikel. I will be there to support him, as I will be at the Tour. If possible, I would like to have my own opportunities to win a stage, we will see. You never know when opportunities will come, particularly in this uncertain period. It’s important to be always ready”.
Damiano Caruso was another important helper for Landa at the Tour de France: “I’m looking forward the upcoming season. My first goal is keeping last year’s high level and if possible, improve. My aim is still to help Landa and the team. Try to win a Grand Tour with him is the aim of everybody in the team”.
The Olympics being held this year is also an ambition for many of the riders such as Wout Poels: “I would really like to go to the Olympics. I think if I do a good Ardennes block, I’ll have a good chance to go. The course suits me very well, and I’ve already had experience at the Olympics and it was very nice”.
Newcomer Jack Haig is also looking forward to the Olympics and getting integrated with the team at the training camp: “I’m super excited to begin a new part of my career with Bahrain Victorious and looking forward to joining my new team on the upcoming training camp and on my first race that will be the Volta a Valenciana. I have the Olympics as big goal of mine, that probably will be my only chance in my cycling career. The Ardennes block will be decisive to make the selection. It’s the first time I’ve changed team since I started my professional career. Therefore my aim will first of all be to integrate with the new team and feel part and comfortable”.
Besides Grand Tours, Team Bahrain Victorious will target the Classics too. Teuns, Colbrelli, Poels and Mohorič are all talented riders to face the various Classics races and the Monuments in the calendar.
Flanders Classics and Ardennes Classics will be Dylan Teuns‘ main goals: “I’m really motivated towards these races. I was really surprised about my performance in my first participation in Tour of Flanders last year. Also, Liège will be my biggest target for Spring races. The Olympics features a parcour that suits me and for sure the performance of the first part of the season will be fundamental to make the selection”.
Matej Mohorič is looking to build on his good results at Milano-Sanremo and Liège-Bastogne-Liège: “I’m more focussed on the Grand Tours supporting my captain, but I would like to take my opportunities in Classics races too. I will be at the start of Strade Bianche, Sanremo, Amstel and Liège”.
The team’s huge talent for the Belgian Classics is Sonny Colbrelli: “I’m happy with the new experience with the role of helper in the Grand Tours, but for sure, my aim is to win my dream races like Tour of Flanders and Milano-Sanremo. Without forgetting that in 2021 there will be the World Championships in Leuven that really suits me”.
The team also focussed on its younger talent during the press conference with Fred Wright and new signing Jonathan Milan.
Milan commented, making his debut professional season: “I feel good and happy to be here in this wonderful team. I’ve a lot of expectations for the upcoming year. My focus for next year is the Track Olympic Games and improve my performance in the time trial. I want to give my help to the team”.
After impressively supporting Poels at the Vuelta a Espana, Wright is looking to improve and gain more experience: “Last year I tried to gain as much experience as possible. Riding my first Grand Tour was pretty special. I would like first of all to continue gaining as much experience as possible, especially in the Classics race”.Miholjević also commented about Wright’s potential: “From the team’s perspective, we put a lot of attention on his future. We strongly believe that he’s one of the riders of the new generation.”