Julien Bernard climbed to 14th place in a snow-shortened stage two at the Tour of Croatia Wednesday. It was a rare chance for one of the team's workhorses to ride for himself, and while Bernard admitted he received great support from his teammates, he fell short of his own expectations on the long summit finish.
"The team did a great job of protecting me and bringing me in a good position at the bottom of the climb," said Bernard. "I'm not really happy with the result because it is not what I expected, but if I look behind me, I have only 15 days of races in the legs."
Trek-Segafredo arrived in Croatia with mostly a sprint team, but they flaunted their presence in the 107-kilometer stunted climbing stage, first with Marco Coledan joining the day's escape, and, after they were caught at the foot of the long finish climb, when Laurent Didier countered and led the early part of the 13-kilometer uphill.
Julien Bernard rounds a corner on the final climb. ©Bettiniphoto
While Didier helped push the pace early, Bernard waited behind with the GC favorites, climbing with the leaders until Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) hit out two kilometers from home and shattered what remained of the leading group.
Six riders pulled away to contest the victory, while Bernard held strong and finished in 14th place, 31 seconds behind Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), who outkicked his five companions.
"My sensations were really better compared to País Vasco, and I'm optimistic for the rest of the week," added Bernard. "I am hoping for a better result in stage five, and I am staying focused on the main goal of the week, which is to continue to build good shape for supporting Bauke [Mollema] in the Giro."