An inaugural race winner, controversy in a sprint finish, two queen stages and a bonus national championship report. Let’s GO!
Stage 5, Saudi Tour
With two seconds between race leader Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea Samsic) and Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain McLaren) at the start of the day it all came down to the final sprint to decide the winner of this inaugural Saudi Tour. Bauhaus claimed victory after a blitzing leadout by Mark Cavendish – but it was not without controversy. The German powerhouse drifted from the barriers towards the middle of the road and appeared to impede Bouhanni twice on the dash to the line. However, the result stood and he goes home with a brace of sprint sins and his first stage race victory.
Can you name him? I think we all can – brilliant to see him use all his experience and sprinting nous to help the team. not that I would expect anything less of this generous and genuine Manxman.
Arkea Samsic must be breathing a huge sigh of relief that their new sprinter has settled well. The tweet reads…
“Two waves from his opponent in the final prevented Nacer Bouhanni from sprinting on this final stage @thesauditour. No downgrading by the referee jury. However, let’s keep the positive 1 success, a place of 2 without being able to sprint and 2 tops 3.
And so to the controversy…
I’m a fan of both sprinters, they have completely different styles, but on this occasion Bouhanni has a point. Here’s the last metres of the sprint. I don’t see anything to cause Bauhaus to come of the barriers. Of course, it’s true that it gets hectic in a sprint. Riders have milliseconds to make decisions while at maximal effort and a little bit of movement or drift happens. But I can’t help thinking what if the situation were reversed and Bouhanni had sprinted in such a manner. Ah well, on such conundrums is this fascinating sport built.
Danes in the desert! Looking forward to seeing more of that beautiful jersey at the front of the peloton.
Final GC and Jerseys
Stage 4, Etoile des Besseges
Ben O’Connor (NTT Pro Cycling) stormed away from his breakaway companions to claim victory atop Le Mont Bouquet. Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling ) and Kamil Maleki (CCC) rounded out the podium on the Queen stage. Race leader Alexys Brunel (Groupama-FDJ) was distanced on the climb and the jersey passes to the rider who never stops attacking – Benoit Cosnefroy. He defends a 24sec advantage going into the TT on the final stage.
Thrilled for Ben and the team who both had difficulties last season.
*CCF stands for Chambéry Cyclisme Formation – a cycling club that is a training centre for AG2R-La Mondiale.
Stage 4, Volta la Comunitat Valenciana
Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) made one telling attack with about 2km to go on the brutal ramps of Sierra de Bernia and it was enough to secure both stage victory and the race lead. He was chased hard by the likes of Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren – how did I miss this transfer!), Tao Geoghegan-Hart (Ineos) and Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) – 2nd 3rd and 4th respectively- but they could not pull him back. Initially dropped by Pogacar’s attack, race leader Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) rallied to take 5th on the day and stay on the GC podium.
Impressive rides by all. You know it’s steep when the catchers are at the finish line
BONUS team classification – Pello Bilbao‘s early effort from the breakaway was a joy to watch. How often do you see a diminutive climber riding alongside Greg van Avermaet, Nathan Van Hooydonck (CCC) and Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-Quickstep) heading into a mountain top finish.
Yesterday Stijn asked twitter for help. Delighted to report he finished in 69th place, 10.43mins behind the race winner. We do not know if Spanish was required.
National Championships, Men’s South African Road Race
Wow, NTT Cycling are on a roll! The jersey will be worn by Ryan Gibbons.
Header image: © Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images