Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) claimed the Slovenian road title for a second time, winning the road race at the National Championships after going all in on the final climb to ride away for a solo victory in Koper.
The 2020 national champion, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) may not have been on the start line of the 172 kilometre race but there was plenty of strong competition for the jersey, including Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), fresh from victory at the Tour of Slovenia and heading into his Tour de France title defence.
Still Mohorič, who last won the title in 2018, delivered a clear victory by coming to the line 15 seconds ahead of Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates), who he had been out the front with into the final stages of the ten-lap race. Luka Mezgec (Team BikeExchange) and Mohorič’s teammate Jan Tratnik came to the line next 1:38 back, with Mezgec winning the sprint for the final podium spot.
“The National Championship is always a messy race. It is a mixed field, so usually, there is always a high pace start and a selection of the strongest guys. That is what also happened this time, said Mohorič.
“Jan Tratnik and I managed to make our way to the first group, we were with Polanc and Pogačar from UAE. It was a pretty good situation for us. Then, later on, [teammate Domen] Novak tried to bridge from the second group. That gave us a reason not to ride anymore in the front and rest up a bit.”
With the Bahrain Victorious duo not riding, UAE Team Emirates decided it was time to try a move.
“After that, Pogacar tried to attack on the climb, but I chose not to follow him. Instead, I made my way back on the descent, but after that, I was exhausted. I counter-attacked immediately to give Jan reason not to ride,” Mohorič said.
“Then we could make a gap with Polanc, and on the last lap, we went all-in on the climb.”
The 26-year-old crossed the line to take his first victory since 2019, after twice missing the top step by just one place at the Tour of Slovenia. The home tour was the return to racing for Mohorič after a horrific looking crash on the downhill in the Giro d'Italia on stage 9, which he escaped from with minor injuries.
“It’s an important win for me," Mohorič said, who will ride the Tour de France with Bahrain Victorious. "Thank you to my teammates for the support. I’m proud of wearing the National jersey from now on."
The road title is the team’s second of the National Championships in Slovenia, with Tratnik earlier winning the time trial title, his third, ahead of Polanc and Pogačar.
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