Matej Mohoric (Cannondale) is the youngest rider who will start Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday. In fact he's the youngest rider in the WorldTour but you wouldn't know it based off the assuredness he exudes.
At the teams' presentation on the eve of Sunday's Monument, the 19-year-old sat down with Cyclingnews to talk about his Ardennes adventure: one that has seen him ride Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne.
"There's a great ambience in these races but the parcours have been great too," he told Cyclingnews as he waited for his Cannondale team to be called up onto the stage.
"I especially like the one from Liège with its longer climbs that suit me better. I'm looking forward to tomorrow to see how it goes. I know it's going to be a really long race and really hard for a 19 year old, but I'll do my best as I always do and we'll see what happens."
That have-a-go attitude served Mohoric well in Amstel when the U23 world champion succeeded in making the day's main break. It was course he already knew well, having taken silver and gold at Valkenburg in the junior men's time trial and road race world championships.
"The difference," he points out, "is that here all the guys are champions and it's a different story. I'm sure that in couple of years things will change and I'll get stronger and become a better cyclist."
Having made his WorldTour debut as early as Australia's Tour Down Under, Mohoric has spent the last few months in Europe where he as concentrated on building up his experience. Starts and finishes in Trofeo Laigueglia and Settimana Coppi e Bartali gave him his first taste of riding as a professional in Italy and the Ardennes have been about one thing, and one thing only: gaining experience.
"They've put me in the race in order to gain experience for the future. There's no pressure but the team just want us to give everything that we can. I made it into the break in Amstel and that was a good experience because I got to see the course better and that will help me in the future when it comes to remember the course. Tomorrow I'll just try and finish as well as I can."
"But I don't see myself as someone with a lot less experience. I just see myself as one of the riders who are here to race. I finished both Amstel and Flèche and I want to complete the set tomorrow."
"In a couple of years I could be up there in the finals but for now it's not so much about results, it's more about being satisfied and happy with my surroundings."
A debut season at this level is all about learning and doing it as quickly as possible. When asked what the biggest lesson he had learned this season Mohoric paused for thought before offering up two gems.
"The biggest lesson I've learnt is that the team is everything. You can't do much without a team. In terms of life, you just need to stay the person that you are, always be honest and tell the truth."
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