By Bjorn Haake in Suances
Matej Jurco showed he has nearly recovered from an earlier crash in the Vuelta a España by making the day-long breakaway which stayed clear of the peloton until the final climb of stage 13. The Milram rider had an accident with his own team car early in the race and injured his face. On the second rest day, the wounds had mostly healed.
Jurco recalled the accident that could have ended even worse. "I had a mechanical. The neutral service had helped me and they were just pushing me back on. At the same time our team car came to help and we collided." Jurco suffered cuts and bruises to his face. What was worse than the surface injuries was what was going inside his head. "For an hour I was dizzy and I didn't really know what was going on."
Jurco survived the stage, continued the Vuelta, and even made it into the break of the day in stage 10. Not even the Angliru could stop his desire to try for another attempt. "If I have the legs, sure, I will give it a try," he said before the stage. It is not just following team orders. The aggressive riding is something Jurco said he enjoys the most.
Amazingly, Jurco did just that. He stormed out of the peloton together with Maarten Tjallingii (Silence-Lotto) after some 40 kilometres into Saturday's stage. They joined lone leader Christophe Kern (Crédit Agricole) to spend some quality time on the front together. Kern resisted the longest, Jurco and Tjallingii were caught just at the beginning parts of the Angliru.
Even if not in the break, Jurco stands out in the dark blue jersey of the Slovakian champion. "It is the first time a ProTour rider from our country won the national jersey." Only then was it possible for the international audience to see it. Before, it was always riders from minor teams, who rarely race outside the country, let alone at bigger races.
Despite the splitting into Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the two countries together for the championship but give out two separate jerseys. Jurco earned the road race title by winning the event outright, but took the time trial jersey as third best finisher behind Czechs Frantisek Rabon and Jan Hruska.
It was in the same time frame that Roman Kreuziger, who is Czech, won the Tour de Suisse. "Everybody was talking about cycling in our country then," Jurco remembered.