Phil Bauhaus netted the first stage race win for his new-look Bahrain-McLaren team at Saudi Tour Saturday. Bauhaus won the final stage after holding off Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea Samsic) in the sprint, allowing him to leapfrog him the Frenchman to the top of the GC.
“We were unlucky yesterday so we knew that I had to win today to take the overall win, and we worked hard for that,” said Bauhaus. “I’m super happy and proud of my team and how we did it today.”
Bauhaus started the day in second overall, just two seconds behind Bouhanni. Bonus seconds awarded to the winner meant that a sprint showdown between the pair in Al Masnak would decide the race. Sure enough, the 144km stage came down to the final sprint, with Bauhaus and Bouhanni contesting a heated finale that went to a jury decision.
After a strong leadout from Bahrain-McLaren, with Heinrich Haussler and then Mark Cavendish taking big turns on the front, Bauhaus had opened the sprint with around 100 meters to, with Bouhanni tucked in on his wheel.
As Bouhanni looked to come around the charging German with 50 meters to go, the Bahrain-McLaren rider’s trajectory from the side to center of the road momentarily blocked Bouhanni. Bouhanni raised his arm in frustration and eased out of his sprint, allowing Bauhaus to take his second stage of the Tour and the overall title. Bouhanni rolled across the line in second place, clearly furious.
There was a long pause as the jury reviewed the footage of Bauhaus’s line before confirming that the German had taken the win, denying Bouhanni of both the stage and the GC.
“It means a lot to me if the world’s best sprinter and former world champion does the leadout for me,” said Bauhaus after the stage. “It’s awesome, the team were super-strong from the beginning. We were always one step in the front, and showed that we are one of the strongest here, and I’m really happy that we could also win the GC.”
Bahrain-McLaren had been active through the inaugural edition of the five-stage race, controlling the peloton and animating the finals with aggressive moves from Haussler. With the team also netting two top-3 stage results so far this week with Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohori in Tour Valenciana, the rebooted Bahraini team has started the season strong.
“Also during the race in Spain, the team are already showing that we’re really strong this year and I just hope that we can take as many wins as possible this season,” said Bauhaus.
Stage 5 results:
- Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain McLaren): 3:18:57
- Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea Samsic): S.T.
- Arvid de Kleijn (Riwal Readynez): S.T.
GC after stage 5:
- Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain McLaren): 17:53:38
- Nacer Bouhanni (Arkea Samsic): +00:00:02
- Rui Costa (UAE-Team Emirates): +00:00:13