Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team Season Review
Updated: Dec 29, 2019
As a team with no top rider for either types of terrain they still have some responsabilities as they have a lot of depth and riders that give guarrantees, Teuns kicked off with fifth in Omloop which briefly even gave some ideas that he could target the cobbles, it didn't materialize but then several riders took place with Colbrelli, Mohoric and even Haussler bringing in some solid displays with Ivan Cortina always lurking but having to work, none of them stood out but took turns as the top result. On the other side of the spectrum Mohoric finished fifth in Milano Sanremo, and despite not having the best results in the Ardennes Nibali and Teuns wrapped up that period with a double presence in the Top10.
Despite Dennis getting of to a good start in Down Under, he then shone also in Suisse where he finished second but in the middle not much to note, and later on in the season we know what happened but although he won the ITT worlds he wasn't a part of the team at that time, the first months of the year were clearly in preparation with few riders in their best form and that really showed in the lack of wins, only in Romandie did the team get their second win of the season by Jan Tratnik which then unblocked the wins, with one each in California, Dauphiné and Suisse, the last two with some overall success by Teuns and Dennis, with Mark Padun later winning on Adriatica Ionica he got a big highlight in the season which then Mohoric with a lot of class managed to cap off with an amazing win in Pologne.
Although there were no disasters the team looked really out of form early in the year, perhaps a strategy but in such a big team there was definetely room to have some riders hunting and obtaining results early on to kickstart the season, that came very very late this year and it was the negative in my opinion.
Bahrain's tilt at the Grand Tours this year was somewhat confusing, it revolved around Nibali's long experience and not having the pressure to perform as a GC contender in every 3-week race he races, so he opted to target the Tour for a stage win after the Giro. But first of all in the Giro, he raced brilliantly with the support of Pozzovivo and Caruso, his second place was a result of that and his pre-Giro results were very promising, he kept his consistency until the end as expected and only had the bad luck of having a very strong Carapaz that couldn't be at the time beaten.
But then the plans were switched, instead of resting up and targeting the Vuelta both Nibali and Caruso went to the Tour where luckily Nibali managed to net a stage win in the final day, Dylan Teuns also had a big win, but those three riders and Rohan Dennis making up the squad and none in the GC fight (adding to Colbrelli/Mohoric/Cortina/Tratnik not getting any win), there were somewhat mixed feelings as I felt the team had the potential to do a lot more. And then at the Vuelta, having heard the news of Domenico Pozzovivo's severe injuries was awful for the plans, Hermann Pernsteiner was on track to save the team's Vuelta but lost his GC tilt in the crosswinds and again it was Dylan Teuns who was there in 12th overall.
A win in Deutschland was an important one for Sonny Colbrelli who had a rough season always being there but almost never having the sprint to win races, it was a motivating one as he later also won the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli, which alongside Phil Bauhaus' win in Coppa Bernocchi racked up those late season wins. Ivan Cortina was third in Montreal, and then mostly in the Italian Autumn classics came strong results adding to those wins. Vincenzo Nibali failed to get up to form though after a Giro-Tour double and that meant there were no big results from the hillier classics that wrap up the European season.
Wins (WT): 16 (7)
Highlight: Teuns' win in Planche des Belles Filles
Best Performer: Dylan Teuns
Biggest Surprise: Hermann Pernsteiner
Negative Surprise: -