The 182km mostly flat stage two was expected to be a day for the sprinters, starting from Sadus Castle and finishing at UNESCO World Heritage Site Al Bujairi in Diriyah.
It was around 80km into the race when a few riders were involved in a crash, including Cavendish and Sieberg. Despite the crash, both riders were able to get back to the group.
Today’s breakaway started 5km into the stage and held out an 8 minute lead from the peloton at one point. Our riders led the bunch in closing down the breakaway, and it was a big effort by Grega Bole to reduce the deficit to a minute with 25km to go.
With just 10km to go, Cavendish got held up by another crash and had to work to catch the bunch with 8km left. However, with the earlier crash, we shifted strategy to set Bauhaus up for the sprint finish.
We were in control of the peloton with 3km to go. In the final kilometre, Haussler in the active rider jersey launched a brave attack. However, it was Bonfazio from Total Direct Energie who latched onto the attack and crossed the line to take the stage win.
With the sprint for second still on in the bunch, it was Bauhaus who crossed the line first in the sprint finish, earning us our consecutive second-place.
Phil Bauhaus: “In the beginning, unfortunately, Sieberg and Mark were involved in the big crash just in front of us, so the team decided to go for me for the sprint, and then we rode really good in the final. Haussler decided to give it a go and tried to attack, anticipate the sprint, but Bonifazio jumped across. I did win the sprint, but if you win the sprint, you also want to be the winner.”
Our SD Vladimir Miholjevic said: “For a while, we were planning this stage. We had to change the plan during the race, because of the crash which Mark was caught in and sustained an injury on his right calf. So we decided to go with Phil which was the right decision, but in the end, it’s second place again. It wasn’t a victory, but we know that we are on the right path.” Asked about Cavendish’s injury, Miholjevic answered: “He will be fine for tomorrow and the upcoming stages.”
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