After two consecutive second-place finishes, Phil Bauhaus claimed the teams first victory, through an excellent display of teamwork. The effort was evident throughout our team as they brought Cavendish back to the peloton after the climb, who alongside Haussler helped take Bauhaus across the line in first at the bunch sprint.
Stage three of the Saudi Tour started from King Saud University, the oldest university in the Kingdom. The 119km stage consisted of a 5km climb with a gradient of 5% that was covered twice.
20km into the race a breakaway formed of five riders, building a gap of two minutes from the peloton, however, they were eventually reeled back in at the second ascent. The race leader Rui Costa then put an attack with 50km to go but was pulled back with 32km left. Within the last 10km, Costa launched another attack, gaining a gap of 15 seconds but was again caught by the peloton with 5km to go. As teams started fighting for position in for the sprint, Haussler managed to come out first on the last corner leading Cavendish and Bauhaus. This time Cavendish pulled Bauhaus, and it worked out perfectly.
Our winner was out of breath but very happy: “The team was just awesome, it was pure class, all day we were one step in front. The last corner, like yesterday Haussler went first position with Mark and me behind, and with 500 meters to go, Mark was super smart, and he told me to go, he made a gap, and I’m so happy that I could finish it off.” Asked about the importance of the first win of the season for Team Bahrain McLaren Phil said: “It was just important to take the first win for us, we were already so close twice, and we are a super strong team, and now this will boost the motivation for everyone in our team, it’s really nice to get the first win quite early, it’s a really nice feeling.”
Our SD Vladimir Miholjevic couldn’t be happier: “We started the race today aiming to win the stage, but we started the previous 2 stages with the same goal, but today we managed to win. We had two main riders for the victory, Bauhaus and Cavendish, and our goal was to neutralize all the attacks and to reduce the group going into the bunch sprint. We managed this, and we have double the satisfaction, firstly because of the great team atmosphere, victory and overall lead in GC. We’re very happy and very proud and now our objective for GC is taking priority, but let’s go day by day.” Asked about who will go for the GC now, Miholjevic was clear: “We have a GC leader now, Phil showed great condition, good climbing, so there is no need to focus elsewhere. The climbs tomorrow are the same as today, the only difference is that the finish is much closer than today, only 23km from the top of the last climb.” Asked about the teamwork – “The whole team worked very well in the front where Haussler and Bauhaus were always close to the attackers, while all the other riders were fully dedicated to Mark to neutralize his disadvantage on the climb, and after the second climb they brought him back in very short time to the front of the peloton. So all our riders were in the game and the result is excellent, as well as performance of the team and visibility. I think we can be more than satisfied.”
(all pictures can be used for editorial and non-commercial usage and are copyright @Bettiniphoto @Team Bahrain McLaren)
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