World Championships: Mohoric all-in for Roglic in Innsbruck

Eight-man Slovenian team pursue rainbow jersey

The Slovenian team will field eight riders in the elite men's road race for the first time in history at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck - all to support Primoz Roglic's pursuit of the rainbow jersey.

"We have eight riders going to the World Championships," Matej Mohoric told Cyclingnews. "We have a big leader in Primoz Roglic; I think that he can probably get a medal, and we will all be there to support him."

Roglic secured the silver medal in the individual time trial in Bergen last year, behind Tom Dumoulin, but he has decided not to contest the event on Wednesday because he has his sights firmly placed on the road race on Sunday.

He also crashed and injured his elbow at the Tour de France in July, where he placed fourth overall and said he hasn't been able to train on his time trial bike. He showed good form, however, at the recent Tour of Britain where he helped his LottoNL-Jumbo team win the stage 5 team time trial, and then went on to place third overall.

The Slovenian federation announced in a press release last week that Mohoric would also be a protected rider for the Worlds road race, given his late-season overall victories at BinckBank Tour and Deutschland Tour.

In an interview with Cyclingnews at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, however, Mohoric said that the Slovenian team would not be protecting him and that he would be 'all-in' to support Roglic's chances for the win.

Mohoric won the junior men's world title in the road race in Valkenburg in 2012 and went on to win the under-23 world title the following year in Florence.

He turned professional off the back of those victories, joining Jonathan Vaughters' Cannondale-Garmin team in 2014, while he was only 19 years old and said that he has come a long way in professional cycling since then.

"When I joined Cannondale in the Pro level, I was maybe a little bit too young," he said. "Now I'm on my fifth season, and I've gained a lot of valuable experience along the way."

Mohoric went on to race for teams Lampre-Merida and UAE Team Emirates, and although he is only 23 years old, he just completed his fifth season on the WorldTour with Bahrain-Merida.

He secured a stage victory at the Vuelta a España at the end of last year, and then had his best season to date with seven wins including another Grand Tour stage win at the Giro d'Italia, and overall victories at BinckBank and Deutschland tours.

"I'm not surprised by my good season because I worked hard for it," Mohoric said. "I'm proud. I think changing teams helped me because I feel at home with Bahrain-Merida.

"I think they have supported me more than my other teams because from the start of the season they told me which races I would be able to be a leader and to do the GC for myself. I could specifically prepare for those races, and then help my teammates in other races.

"They gave me all the support that I needed, and they trusted me, so I hope to be able to pay back that trust in the future."

Mohoric told Cyclingnews that he would be using his best-ever form to help his compatriot Roglic win the rainbow jersey. The Slovenian roster will also include Mohoric's Bahrain-Merida teammates Grega Bole, Luka Pibernik and Domen Novak. Also on the team are Simon Spilak (Katusha-Alpecin), Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) and Jan Tratnik (CCC Sprandi Polkowice).

Mohoric said that he hopes to one day add an elite world title to his collection of junior and under-23 gold medals, and he believes that opportunity could come as soon as next year at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire.

"I think that I still have a couple of years to get the elite rainbow jersey," Mohoric said. "Maybe next year, at the World Championships in Yorkshire, as that might be more realistic for me. It will be a Classics-style race; hard but with no long climbs, and that would suit me the best."

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