Bahrain Victorious has a strong Grand Tour and stage race roster with Mikel Landa, Wout Poels and new signing Jack Haig but they also intend to target the cobbled and Ardennes Classics with the combined talents of Sonny Colbrelli, Dylan Teuns, Matej Mohoric. A lack of a big-name Classics winner will give them all leadership opportunities.
Poels and Haig will no doubt be part of the Ardennes Classics squad, with veterans Marco Haller, Heinrich Haussler, sprinter Phil Bauhaus and young British rider Fred Wright are also names to remember for the Classics.
Teuns perfectly reflects Bahrain Victorious’ eclectic talents. He is competitive on the cobbles and in the Ardennes but is often overshadowed by other riders in Belgium. Yet he showed what he can do by winning the stage to La Planches des Belles Filles at the 2019 Tour de France. His palmares include the 2017 Tour de Pologne, a stage at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné, and the time trial at the 2020 Ruta del Sol.
He was understandably disappointed to be overlooked for a place in last year’s Grand Boucle but finished 11th at Gent-Wevelgem and tenth at the Tour of Flanders in a clear show of pride.
Despite his Tour snub, Teuns opted to extend with Bahrain rather than head elsewhere and his reward is plenty of chances in the cobbled and Ardennes Classics.
“My decision was pretty simple: I feel happy in this team and the team made me an early offer,” Teuns explained as Bahrain Victories presented their 2021 line-up and ambitions via Zoom before heading to Altea in Spain next week for a training camp.
“I didn’t go to the Tour de France or to the Worlds but these things happen in cycling. Sometimes you are just unlucky and that’s how it is.
“Last year started off really good for me and it was a great sign of working well in the winter. Then we fell into lockdown and it was a long time without competition; It was hard to get into the rhythm again. I did some good results in Classics so I was happy going into winter.
“In the past few two months, I’ve been working really well to start in good shape. I start with a big block in the spring. I was surprised with my rides in the Classics last year, I got good results, so now I’m really motivated for this spring.”
Teuns will make his 2021 debut at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and then head home to Belgium for the opening weekend of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne – Bruxelles – Kuurne.
“It’ll be nice to ride the opening weekend in Belgium. Then I’ve got Paris-Nice, then the Classics, with Flanders and everything, then the Ardennes too. I’ll only take a break in the early summer,” he explained.
Bahrain Victorious will perhaps target stages at the Tour de France but with so many Grand Tour riders in their roster, Teuns knows he again faces a fight for a place in the eight-rider squad.
“I’d like to ride a Grand Tour, too, but we’ll see what happens…” he said, opting not to vent any frustrations for now.
Mohoric and Colbrelli complete Bahrain Victorious’ Classics options
Mohoric is generally far more relaxed about his ambitions despite his pedigree as a Junior and Under 23 world champion, 2018 BinckBank Tour winner and his fourth place at last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, behind Primoz Roglic, Marc Hirschi and Tadej Pogacar.
The 26-year-old Slovenian is considered a huge talent but seems to take whatever comes his way.
“My 2020 highlights were Milan-San Remo and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, while I was disappointed that a crash in the Vuelta ended my season early,” Mohoric explained.
“I’m eager to come back and start racing again. I’ll start with the other guys in Valencia and my main early goals will be Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo. Then I’ll ride Catalunya and Pais Vasco before targeting the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. After that, I’ll probably ride the Giro d’Italia to help Mikel Landa and also try to be selected for the Tour de France.”
Colbrelli sacrificed his chances in the sprints at the Tour de France to help Landa, accepting the role while chomping on his bars as Wout Van Aert, Sam Bennett, Peter Sagan and Caleb Ewan fought in the numerous sprint finishes.
Like Teuns, his payback is plenty of opportunities in Bahrain Victorious’ Classics squad.
“The Tour of Flanders is a dream of course, as is Milan-San Remo but there’s also races like De Brabantse Pijl, where I finished fourth last year, and of course the world championship in Leuven that really suits me are my goals in 2021,” the Italian said.
“I’ll also make myself available to the team, just like I did in 2020 in the Tour. I had a new role at the Tour helping Mikel but I felt it was an important role and I hope to do it again.”