BAHRAIN MERIDA Team protected its captain very well in one of the most feared stage in this year’s Tour de France (Arras Citadelle – Roubaix 156,5km). A day on the cobbles with 15 pavé sectors for a total of about 22km, plenty of crashes and mechanical problems. Fortunately Vincenzo Nibali finished safely – 27” behind the winner Degenkolb – in the group of the majority of the GC contenders. The German rider (a Paris-Roubaix specialist and winner) outsprinted yellow jersey Greg Van Avermaet and Belgian champion Yves Lampaert. The trio made today’s decisive move with an attack with 16km to go.
“Vincenzo didn’t lose time in the overall and this is the most important thing” explains Sports Director Rik Verbrugghe “This stage hurt some GC contenders as Porte, who was forced to abandon due to a crash and Uran who came over the line with a huge delay. It was difficult today to make the difference, maybe with a rainy day it would have been different. Anyway, we accomplished our mission to protect Vincenzo”.
Pozzovivo, who finished together with Nibali, as well as Haussler before did an outstanding performance on the cobbles to support BAHRAIN MERIDA captain in a very fast and dangerous day, since the start. “The beginning was the most difficult part of all the stage. Everybody wanted to stay at the front: roads were narrow and the pace was very high” comments the Shark who was involved in a crash with 67km to go, without consequences, but that saw the peloton split “Fortunately we managed to retrieve. Then I stay at the front, but it was really hard because everytime we were on the cobblestone sectors everybody pushed to take it at the front and the speed was always high. It was a hard day. I’m tired, but happy”.
Tomorrow the first rest day, before the challenge on the Alps.