Bahrain Victorious is heading into the season with a confidence boost after sprinter Phil Bauhaus took the team’s first win of 2021 on the frantic finish of stage four of the Tour de la Provence.
After a late-catch of the break of the day, on the 163.2 km final stage from Avignon to Salon-de-Provence, Heinrich Haussler helped keep Bauhaus up the front and out of trouble so that on the run into the line the German rider was in a position to come from behind and edge ahead of the well-placed Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep) just before the line.
“Today the team executed the plan perfectly and were pretty confident that Phil could do it and he proved that this time last year that he can win. Everyone was dialed in and willing to help,” said Sports Director Rolf Aldag, who took up the role at Bahrain Victorious this season. “We had two goals, to not lose time with Wout for the GC and win the stage with Phil. The early season victory takes the pressure off. It was a nice victory against some other world-class sprinters. We can be very happy with the day.”
The sixth edition of the French race was boosted by a huge turn out from WorldTour teams this year as several other high profile races fell by the wayside due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It made for a star-studded field, with Wout Poels holding firm for fourth on the overall behind Ivan Sosa, (Ineos Grenadiers), world champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers).
Poels worked his way up the GC after finishing fourth on the decisive and testing stage 3, which finished on the slopes of Mont Ventoux. On that stage teammate Jack Haig also managed to finish ninth, which set the Australian rider up for seventh place on the overall in his debut race with Bahrain Victorious, and Dylan Teuns came 16th.
“Overall, I think yesterday was a decisive stage, and we had three guys up there with Dylan, Wout, and Jack, and they also did well. For Wout, he showed he could close the gaps to Alaphilippe and Egan Bernal, which should give him a lot of self-confidence. So overall, we feel we are ready for the season,” said Aldag.