St. Martin de la Porte, France - Adrien Costa and Ruben Guerreiro produced the Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team's first 1-2 finish of the season Saturday at the Tour de Savoie Mont-Blanc individual time trial while Tao Geoghegan Hart remained second overall with a day to go.
Costa powered to victory - by one second - in the 7.5-kilometer race against the clock that was the second of two stages on the day. All six Axeon Hagens Berman riders competed on their Specialized S-Works Tarmac bicycles because of the technical nature of the course.
Costa's victory was his third of the season and the 10th on the year by an Axeon Hagens Berman rider in UCI competition. In all, the American Under 23 development team managed by Axel Merckx has won 15 races and captured seven classifications in stage race competition.
"Adrien and Ruben had the advantage of riding in dry weather, but Tao still had a great result," Merckx said. "We have a stage win and we are still in contention for the overall, so we are pretty happy right now."
Geoghegan Hart finished 13 seconds back of Costa. He is seven seconds behind Spaniard Enric Mas (Klein Constantia), who placed third in the time trial to assume the race lead.
"It rained super hard for the last 15 or 20 guys, which was disappointing," Geoghegan Hart said. "But that is cycling."
Guerreiro's runner-up result was his second in a five-hour span and boosted him into the lead in the points classification. In the morning's 123-kilometer road race, the 21-year-old from Portugal was second to Frenchman Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fortuneo-Vital Concept).
"I am happy with my performances today," Guerreiro said. "When I get second, I feel good, but not so great. But it is not that bad to lose by one second to my teammate like I did this afternoon. It was a good course for me, with lots of little climbs that required power and someone who is good on the descents, too."
Geoghegan Hart, who has strung together three straight top 10 finishes this week, said Sunday's 130-km road race that features four categorized climbs offers the opportunity for one - or even two more successes.
"Tomorrow will be interesting," Geoghegan Hart said. "There are some big climbs, so I think anything is possible. We have a strong team so I don't see why we can't try to get someone up the road for the stage, like we did with Ruben today, as well as aim for the general classification."
Merckx agreed, noting that the Klein Constantia team of race leader Mas is down to four riders. Axeon Hagens Berman remains with its full complement of six.
"It is one of the hardest stages tomorrow and it will be very hard to control the race," Merckx said. "So much can happen and it will be come down to who has the freshest legs. We have a very strong team here, so we will see what happens."
(Photo of Costa courtesy of Tour de Savoie Mont-Blanc.)