Bazzana Sprints to 3rd on Stage 2, Rises to 5th Overall at World Ports Classic
Alessandro Bazzana sprinted to third place in a top-level field at this weekend’s Worlds Ports Classic in the Netherlands, on roads that will again be raced upon in this year’s Tour de France. The UCI 2.1HC-ranked event took in two days of racing between the European ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. The first day, a rolling stage with small cobbled sections, was the perfect opener for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, who entered the race with the focus on the Italian sprint duo of Alessandro Bazzana and Daniele Ratto.
The region of Zeeland is famous for crosswinds coming off the North Sea, and the racing was nervous and aggressive in response. In the chase to reel in an early breakaway, echelons formed through the peloton, leading to an unfortunate late-stage crash in which Ken Hanson broke his wrist and was forced to exit the race. The majority of the 195-kilometer opening stage was raced at a frantic pace, and the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was happy to keep their sprinters safe to compete on day two. >
The second stage took a reverse route from Antwerp to Rotterdam. The shorter inland route was sheltered from the crosswinds, and the day’s racing proceeded calmly in anticipation for the sprint finish in the port city of Rotterdam.
An early breakaway included Ratto, looking to scoop up intermediate sprint points, but it was eventually contained as the field approached the outskirts of the city. With many teams looking to set up their sprinters, there were multiple crashes in the closing kilometers. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was on alert for the entire race, and successfully piloted Bazzana to the front of the race. With a well-executed lead out from Davide Frattini, Bazzana secured a third place on the stage. The result also moved him up on the general classification, to finish just 13 seconds off the win in 5th place overall.
Hendrik Redant, sporting director for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team at the World Ports Classic, reflected on the racing, “In these races, it is all about concentration and dedication, spiced up with a little bit of luck. Our boys put in a great effort to get on the podium amongst the best sprinters in the world in a top-quality race.”