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Winning the Tour Down Underís team classification


WEBWIRE

A compact team performance of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM throughout the Tour Down Under was rewarded with the win in the team classification of 2018ís first World Tour race - and the team achieved this without a top5 result in the stages. The next race on the teamís calendar is the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional held in Argentina.

For the last couple of years the start of the cycling season has moved to the Southern hemisphere: With picture-book summer weather and good road conditions, the Tour Down Under held in Southern Australia makes it easier for the athletes to get back into racing. This year, temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celsius even forced the organizers to shorten one of the six stages. While many teams opted to send a strong sprinter and some riders for his support, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM chose another approach. With Domenico Pozzovivo and the two brothers Gorka and Ion Izagirre, it fielded three equal captains that all had already finished earlier editions of the Tour Down Under in the top10 of the overall standings. These three riders got the support of four experienced riders with Valerio Agnoli, Yukiya Arashiro, Manuele Boaro and Ramunas Navardauskas.

Despite the lack of a real sprint specialist, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM scored a number of top10 finishes in the stages: Ramunas Navardauskas sprinted to 9th place in the first stage and Gorka Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo finished the second stage in 7th and 8th, respectively. Pozzovivo added a 7th place in the fourth stage, putting all three leaders of the team within 14 seconds of the overall leader Peter Sagan before the decisive stage finishing atop Willunga Hill. While Richie Porte proved to be unbeatable at this little mountaintop finish, Gorka Izagirre only conceded 10 seconds to the stage winner with Domenico Pozzovivo and Ion Izagirre another 4 seconds back. As for the final stage in Adelaide, the three team captains crossed the finish line side by side in 16th to 18th position.

This focused and compact team performance throughout the week got Gorka Izagirre to 7th in the final overall standings, with Ion Izagirre in 12th and Domenico Pozzovivo in 14th. More importantly, the strong performance of all three riders and their four helpers got the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM the win in the Tour Down Underís team classification, beating Dimension Data and Quick-Step Floors - a first valuable success for the riders in red, gold and dark blue. As from this Sunday, another selection of the team is competing at the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional held in Argentina. For this race that features a short individual time trial, three flat stages, two hilly stages and one tough mountaintop finish, Vincenzo Nibali is the leader for the overall standings and Niccolo Bonifazio is the protected rider for the sprints. They get the support of Ivan Garcia Cortina, Antonio Nibali, Mark Padun and Kanstantin Siutsou.

20th Santos Tour Down Under

Final team classification:
1. BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 60:11.50 hours
2. Dimension Data + 0.26
3. Quick-Step Floors, + 1.04

Images: bettiniphoto.ne


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