Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won his first national title as a professional after winning the individual time trial at the Slovenian National Championships on Friday. He beat compatriots Matej Mohoric by 29 seconds and Jan Tratnik by 45 seconds, both from Bahrain-Merida.
"I was aware of the high level of the competitors, especially considering the participation of Mohoric and Tratnik, however I was well trained, I worked hard after the Tour of California," Pogačar said in a team press release.
The Slovenian course was 44km and held in Ljubljana. Pogačar covered the distance in a winning time of 49:34 to beat Mohoric and Tratnik. The victory marked his fifth of the season after winning a stage and the overall title at both the Volta ao Algarve and the Tour of California. It marks his first national title as a professional.
"In the first part of the course I set a regular pace, close to my limit, and in the second half I pushed as hard as I could. I'm really satisfied with my performance and with this beautiful national title."
Pogačar spent the last two seasons riding for Slovenian Continental teams, but joined UAE Team Emirates for his first season on the WorldTour in 2019. He is one of the biggest rising stars in professional cycling, proving as much with his early-season results.
Although some would like to see what he could do at a Grand Tour, the team's director, Neil Stephens, told Cyclingnews at the Tour of California that Pogačar won't be racing Grand Tours until 2021.
"We knew he could do the performances that he's accomplished," Stephens said. "It has surprised us, though, that he's accomplishing so much, so soon. We always knew he could, but maybe in a year or two. He doesn't race that much, but when he does, it's really intense. He's had a combination of hard racing and then good training – hard racing, good training."
Pogačar's next big target will be the Tour of Slovenia held from June 19-23.
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