Dylan Teuns brought down the curtain on his four-year tenure at BMC Racing Saturday with a podium finish in Il Lombardia, the season's final Monument. The 26-year-old Belgian will move to Bahrain-Merida next year and capped a season of near-misses with another close result.
Teuns was in the lead group battling for the win in the final 50km when Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) attacked on the final climb and soloed the final 14km to victory. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) chased Pinot for second, 32 seconds back. Teuns won the sprint for third another 11 seconds later from a six-rider group that also included Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac), Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida).
"I had really good legs today, and in the end I couldn't gamble for the win because Pinot was really strong on the Sormano and we never saw him again," Teuns said. "This is a hard race and one that I like, so I can be really happy with a podium finish at a Monument. It's a dream to win a race like this. I think I made the first step by being on the podium today, and I hope I can come back and win one day."
Attacks at the front of the race on the Madonna del Ghisallo climb saw the day's early breakaway split before the steep gradients of the Colma di Sormano, where the leading quartet's advantage dropped to 50 seconds. With gradients reaching 27 per cent on the Sormano, a select group quickly formed. Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) then attacked with 49km remaining before being joined and overtaken by Nibali and Pinot at the top of the climb.
Teuns formed part of a small chase group of a less than dozen riders on the descent, while Roglic regained contact with Nibali and Pinot. Egan Bernal (Team Sky) attacked and made contact with the leaders to make it four riders in front before the start of the Civiglio climb. Pinot and Nibali dropped both Bernal and Roglic inside final 20 kilometres, however, setting up Pinot's successful solo move at the top of the final climb.
At the finish, Nibali held on for second, while Roglic and Bernal faded. Teuns dug deep to take the sprint for third.
"The Sormano is an important point of the race," Teuns said. "It's maybe the most difficult point, and I tried to follow the bigger riders there, but it was not easy. The attack from riders including Pinot and Nibali was really strong and I was just 20 meters or so behind. I tried to find my own speed from there, and I came to the top of the climb in fifth position but not too far back, maybe only 20 to 25 seconds behind.
"On a fast descent like that, it was hard to close the gap though," he said. "In the end, once the group was gone after the descent of Sormano, we never saw Pinot again. We saw Bernal coming back as well as Roglic and Nibali, who we caught on the last climb, but he went on to attack in the descent. I think the strongest won for sure today."
Teuns' last win came in 2017, a season that saw him take overall victories in Tour de Wallonie, Tour of Poland and the Arctic Race of Norway. Although he came close to several wins in 2018, he couldn't quite reach the podium's top step, scoring podiums in Lombardia, Giro dell'Emilia and Hammer Stavanger, as well as in stages at the Vuelta a Espana, Tour of Poland, Criterium du Dauphine and Paris-Nice. His chance to score a 2018 win ended Saturday along the shores of Lake Como.
"My season ends with Lombardia," Teuns told Cyclingnews. "I missed out on a big victory, but I’m still going to enjoy the winter, have a rest, reload the batteries in the hope I come back stronger. I don’t know what I have to do to win a big race. I tried a lot this season and hope that one day the big victory will come in a Classic I’ve always dreamt about it."