Vincenzo Nibali finished 4th at the 141 km long last stage of Tour of Croatia and won the general classification. This is the first GC victory for Vincenzo Nibali in the BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team jersey.
On a partially cloudy morning in Samobor the atmosphere in BAHRAIN MERIDA Pro Cycling Team was a little better, although the tragic event in Italy from yesterday was still on everyone’s mind. For the final Stage of Tour of Croatia the key goal was to do everything possible for Vincenzo Nibali to win the overall general classification at the 3rd edition of this race.
Nice team presentation in Samobor, in front of a numerous crowd, created good vibes for all riders, before the last challenge of this race. After the start, the peloton had a good tempo and some attempts for the breakaway. Soon after, at the first intermediate sprint in Sveta Nedjelja, Vincenzo Nibali won and took back the leading position in general classification from Jaime Roson Garcia (CRS) by getting 3 bonus points and an advantage of 1 second. Later on, in Marija Bistrica at the 70th km, the breakaway group of 15 riders made a gap of almost 3 min. BAHRAIN MERIDA riders made a solid front block in the bunch and it was quite clear that they will have to fight Caja Rural Seguros until the finish line.
After entering Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, the peloton caught the breakaway group and BAHRAIN MERIDA riders were fully supporting Vincenzo Nibali, who crossed the finish line in fourth place, which brought him victory in general classification and a big confidence boost before Giro d’Italia that starts in 12 days.
Winner of Tour of Croatia Vincenzo Nibali said after the race: »It was not easy. Last days were very sad and hard and I rode with sadness in the heart. Today I was in good condition and I won intermediate sprint. The final sprint was not so easy. The race showed that our preparations for Giro are on the right track. I feel better and better every day and I am looking forward to Giro D’Italia.«
Head of the sports directors, Gorazd Štangelj said after the race: »Every day we were getting better and better. Today we didn’t do any mistakes from the beginning of the race. The riders did their best and we succeed at the intermediate sprint, despite the other strong sprinters. Vincenzo got us 3 seconds for this win, and that was decisive at the end. We surprised today with that tactic decision, but it was the right one.«
Paolo Slongo, sports director was also satisfied: »The race today went as we wanted and as we planned. Remembering Michele in the morning gave us even more power and after 3,5 km it was already intermediate sprint and Vincenzo was really strong. After getting 1 sec of advantage we controlled the whole race and the whole team did a great job. This victory goes not only to Vincenzo, but to the whole team and staff.«