Matej Mohoric (Lampre-Merida) has just begun his third season as a professional at the Tour de San Luis, yet he is still only 21. The Slovenian made history in 2013 when he became the first rider to win the junior and under 23 World Championship road race in consecutive seasons.
Mohoric’s performance rightly earned him a lot of attention from several major teams and he was quick to sign for Cannondale for the following season. Moving from Continental to WorldTour in one swift movement has proved a steep learning curve for Mohoric, but he’s hoping that his recent move to Lampre-Merida will help him find his feet.
“We’ll see this year how it goes,” he told Cyclingnews at the Tour de San Luis “I think I struggled a little bit in the last two years, and maybe I went professional a little too soon. I hope that I now can make that little step with good progression and quality.”
Fitting in at Lampre-Merida
Mohoric moved to Lampre-Merida at the end of last season after just one year with the Cannondale-Garmin team. Mohoric found himself on the American squad due to circumstance rather than anything else when they merged with his Italian-based Cannondale outfit. While the lead sponsor was the same as it had been in the previous season, for Mohoric it was very much a different team. Gone was the largely Italian roster and staff-base, as the team became a much more American set-up.
While he has nothing bad to say about his time at Cannondale-Garmin, Mohoric feels much more at home with Lampre-Merida.
“I fit in really well here and I’ve made a lot of friends already. The atmosphere has been great so far,” said Mohoric.
“Maybe last year, with the American mentality, I didn’t fit in as well as with the Italians. Otherwise, I enjoyed last year as well. It was a good experience to be with Cannondale-Garmin for one year but I’m having a good time here.”
Mohoric is making his debut for the team at the Tour de San Luis. Like many of the other Europeans, he’s not expecting to go exceptionally well and secure results, using the race more for training with an eye towards the European races in the spring. The Lampre-Merida team got off to a rocky start on Monday when they went out too quickly in the opening team time trial, finishing 15th, but Mohoric is happy with the way things are going thus far.
“We started off well but because it’s January we’re not that fit yet. We struggled a little bit in the second half, but it was mostly okay. The atmosphere is more relaxed, and the people are easier going so it is quite nice. It’s really good weather here, although it is a little bit warm, but it is better than at back home,” he said. “I want to see how I go in the climbs. I did train at home, so I think that my condition isn’t that bad but for sure I won’t be able to do anything crazy.”
Cobbled Classic debut
After San Luis, Mohoric will swap one set of baking temperatures for another as he heads to the Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman. Strade Bianche will be his first European race in early March before the Volta a Catalunya WorldTour stage race in Spain -his main goal in the early part of the season. After that, there will be a small change to his calendar from the previous two years as he takes on the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
Mohoric won’t be going in completely in the dark after competing on the cobbles as a junior, but there’s still very much an element of the unknown.
“I have an idea of what it will be like but not among the professionals it’s completely different,” Mohoric explained. “We said that maybe it would be a good idea to do the first part of the Classics. I’m not a pure climber because I’m quite heavy for a climber, and I’m quite okay with bike handling. The first part in Belgium might suit me well so we’ll have to see.”