Posted on Leave a comment

When quitting is not an option

It was a very successful season but with a bit of an aftertaste. I can say that I am extremely satisfied because I proved that I could race and fight with the best in the biggest one-day classics. The World Championship hurt. I have learned in my career that you should never give up. In 2013, I almost put the bike in the corner, but then I persisted, believing that I would succeed one day and after a few years, I came back to the world tour level. I will also persevere, believe and train now to achieve a top result in the future. Now that my head is clear, I channeled all my anger into motivation, which has grown even more after this season.

Looking back, I’m proud of how my career turned out. Up, up, up, then a cold shower and slowly making my way back up. Next year, I am racing for Team Jumbo Visma. I believe that I will hone all my weaknesses, have the best support in terms of equipment, coaching, nutrition, and materials, and I really can’t wait to see where it will take me.

I probably wouldn’t have gotten to this point without some people who helped me in the most challenging moments. When I no longer knew what to do with myself. To those who didn’t turn their backs on me and believed in me – you know who you are. The list is long, but I have to mention a few of you. Miran Kavaš, with whom we started training again and building step by step my physical and mental abilities. Dejan Bajt, who recommended me to the Amplatz BMC team, so that I even had a team for 2014, otherwise I would have been without it. Team CCC because they opened the door to professional cycling for me again. Team Bahrain Victorious, in which I established my place in the world tour. I learned a lot in those 4 years with them and I’m grateful for the experience. Especially, for all the support they gave me. To all my friends, with whom we have been together since childhood and who have supported me since the beginning of my career. To the family. Idrija. And Urša. We went through some difficult times, but we both believed, saw the light at the end of the tunnel, persevered together and we made it.

The season is over, the new one will start soon. I will be “already” 33 years old, but I don’t think of it as old. I believe if you think about it, you’re making yourself old. As long as the legs are good, and the head is in place, anything is possible. If you persist and believe. I’m going on a new journey. Such that I believe will be successful and I can’t wait for it all to begin.

I would like to thank everyone who followed me and cheered me on during difficult and beautiful moments. I will do my best to continue enjoying cycling together.

Posted on Leave a comment

Video interview: Ups & Downs

Last November, in the off-season we filmed a call for a charity purpose. After the filming, we ended up talking about Tratnik’s career and the camera remained turned on. We touch on the beginnings of his career, the (too) quick transfer to the professional team Quickstep, the period that followed in which he had to rebuild himself back from zero, the near victory in the stage of the Paris-Nice, the victory in the “Slovenian” stage of the Giro d’Italia, the Tokyo Olympics and we conclude with how professional cycling is today.

There is lots of material, the past season has been very exciting. Maybe we will film something this year too 😉

PS: English subtitles are available (thank you Ines!).

Filmed by: Danijel Čančarević

Posted on Leave a comment

The Canadian double

The race calendar led riders to Canada in the past week – to the Grand Prix of Quebec and Montreal. Those were the last races for Tratnik this season with Team Bahrain Victorious and he honored that with a combative ride in Quebec. In the end it was Cosnefroy Benoir (AG2R Citroen Team), who won the race. Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) was the first to cross the finish line in Montreal a couple of days later.

»I’m coming home tired, but happy. Profile-wise, the race in Quebec was better for me and it would be better to wait for the finale than to attack in the middle of the race and try to make it harder for others. Still, my solid performance motivated me for the next race in Montreal. I knew it would be more difficult because it was longer and had more attitude meters. Unfortunately, I wasn’t strong enough to fight for the first positions in the last climb. I gave it my all, but the race was just too difficult for me. I’m still happy with my performance. Next on the menu is to travel to Australia for World Championship. I feel good and hope I can finish the season well.«

Photo: Sprint Cycling

Posted on Leave a comment

One-day races in August

If you don’t race on La Vuelta, then your August schedule consists of one-day races. After the European Championship Jan raced in Hamburg at the BEMER Cyclassics and in Plouay at the Bretagne Classic. Marco Haller (BORA – Hansgrohe) won the BEMER Cyclassics in a bunch sprint. Tratnik’s racing was compromised by a bunch crash, in which he luckily wasn’t involved but the damage was done anyway.

“After European Championship I very quickly refocused as new races and challenges were on the horizon. I traveled to Hamburg where I was aiming at some good results. The first part of the race was relatively calm until we made it to the finishing circuit. The speed increased significantly, and you could feel the tension and stress in the peloton because of the narrow roads and positioning before the climbs, which caused a bunch crash. Luckily, I wasn’t involved but I lost contact with the leading riders. A little later on, I managed to get back to the first group, but I spent a lot of energy doing that and was not able to follow the best ones on the last climb. Nevertheless, I’m happier to finish the race without new bruises and in one piece.”

A week later, Tratnik traveled northwest of France to race a 255 km long one-day race known as the Bretagne Classic. Jan made the race very exciting with a breakaway, solo ride, and several attacks. Unfortunately, he was caught just a few kilometers from the finish. Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma) won the race from a small group sprint.  

»Bretagne Classic was on my mind as a special goal for the second part of the season. Also, the team made me the team captain. I seized the given opportunity and decided to attack 70 km to the finish where the terrain became more difficult. There were quite a few riders in the break, but the peloton had us on 30-40 seconds all the time. I had to speed up to avoid being caught early. Later on, in the race, I was solo in front of the break and saw two riders approaching. I decided to wait for them and continue together because we were much stronger if we worked together. The closer we got to the finish line, the more I believed I can win it. Unfortunately, I was caught 4 km to the finish. I attacked one more but was caught after some time. Still, I didn’t give up. I wanted to sprint but had some bad luck there as well. I speeded up from behind, but the group moved to the right and closed my line to the finish. Nevertheless, I’m extremely happy with my performance because it gives me lots of motivation for upcoming races in Canada.”

Photo: Sprint Cycling

Posted on Leave a comment

European Championship

Münich hosted this year’s European Championship in cycling. Riders competed in the individual time trial on a dynamic, 24 km long route. Jan Tratnik and Matic Žumer rode for Slovenian National Team. Tratnik had a bad day after a long season and finished 13th one minute and 41 seconds behind the winner of the day – Stephan Bissegger (Switzerland).

»I have to admit this was not what I wanted today. I somehow managed to race solidly in the first part but the second part was a disaster. I’m disappointed but that’s life. I would probably be even more disappointed if I had stayed at home and watched the race on TV. I did my best but didn’t have the right power. Nevertheless, I’ve had worse days. It seems like I’m not in the best shape because my condition changes daily. I hope I will be able to continue the season more successfully.”

The road race took place on Sunday and the Slovenian national team finished 6th with Luka Mezgec. Fabio Jakobsen (the Netherlands) won the 207 km long race in a bunch sprint. Tratnik was working for the team in the last part of the race.

“European championship ended as expected – with a bunch sprint. I tried to go in a breakaway 110 km to the finish because I didn’t want a controlled race. However, the other teams were too organized and didn’t allow for surprises. We worked very well together as a team. We knew we should bring Luka in front, but we didn’t have a lead-out team. We still managed to bring Luka in front in the final laps. That was important because the final laps were very technical, and you could save a lot of energy if you stayed in front. If we compare ourselves with other teams, the rest had their lead-out teams and since we didn’t, I think Luka did amazing finishing 6th.”

Photo: Sprint Cycling & Christof Stache/AFP & Kolesarska zveza Slovenija & Personal Achieve

Posted on Leave a comment

Tour after Tour in numbers

This was my second Tour and seventh Grand Tour. I didn’t have the ideal preparations for racing on Tour because, after my crash in Giro, there was a big question mark over my race calendar and my physical condition. Due to the different illnesses and injuries of my teammates, I got my place on the team for the Tour. And I’m very grateful and proud of it. However, I’m not particularly happy with my performance because I wasn’t there in any of the winning breakaways and I only managed a solid result on the ITT. I’m still looking for answers to questions like “what did I do wrong”. Tour is the biggest race and preparations for it start as early as in May (or even earlier). I found I will race very last minute, and I didn’t have the right time to prepare for it. Also, because of my Giro injury, I couldn’t do any altitude training camp, which (I found later on) is an absolute must for me to be well prepared for a Grand Tour. I also had very little time to prepare myself mentally for the biggest race of the season. Before the Tour started, I believed everything can go smoothly but I soon realized then the race was extremely tough, and it won’t get any easier. Without the right preparation, bad days keep happening, affecting your motivation and focus. For illustration and out of my own curiosity I gathered some data which describe the circumstances we raced in. Enjoy 😊

6. stage: Binche – Longwy: Very tough stages. Breakaway after breakaway for 1h45min (or 87 km), average speed 49 km/h, average watts 279, 360/NP (avg.).

12. stage: Briançon – L’Alpe d’Huez: Crazy! What an atmosphere. Sweat and alcohol in the air. Vive le Tour 😊

15. stage: Rodez – Carcassonne: Extremely hot stage. Average temperature 40°C, max. temperature 45°C.

16. stage: Carcassonne – Foix: Another hot stage with high humidity too (average temperature 37 ° C, max. temperature 41°C.

18. etapa: Lourdes – Hautacam: 4036 vertical meters. The winner needed 4 hours to finish the stage. I rode 4h 35min. Average watts for the disco group that day were 254/ 299 NP (avg). The time limit was 40 min.

21. stage: Paris La Defense – Paris (Champs-Elysees): Coffee ride to Champs-Elysees. For the first hour and 50 minutes (or first 50 km), we had an average speed of 27,8 km/h.

The highest speed achieved on stage 9: 96 km/h.

Below is a graph of my max. heart rate during all stages. As you can see, rest days are much needed/wanted 😊

Photo: Sprint Cycling, Poci’s Pix, Personal Archive

Posted on Leave a comment

9 down, 12 to go 

One-third of the Tour de France is in the books and it was an exciting one. We witnessed rainy conditions in the opening ITT, fear from echelons, racing on legendary Roubaix cobbles, thrilling sprint finales, and a taste of mountain stages, which indicates we will enjoy some exciting performances next week in the Alps. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) is currently leading in the general classification. Three minutes and forty seconds behind is Damiano Caruso, the best-situated rider from Team Bahrain Victorious. Tratnik is in the role of a domestique.

»”First week” is done and dusted. The first stages were super-fast, and it feels like the second rest day came quite quickly – much needed. I’m happy with how we race but I was mostly in the role of a domestique. Unfortunately, we lost Jack who crashed in stage 5. I was quite lucky in terms of crashes. I only sprained my middle finger. Except for being swollen is all good and I can race normally.

I tried to go in a breakaway in some stages but there were too many teams interested in catching the break or sprinting in the finale, so it wasn’t really successful. However, I’m happy with how I feel. I didn’t feel 100% at the beginning but I think I’m getting better and better each day. I spent the rest day very easily. I went on a short training to stretch my legs, rest the whole day and not think about the race. A brutal week is coming, it’s going to be tough, but I’m looking forward to it. Also, because of the many Slovenian fans who started gathering along the roads.”

Photo: Chris Auld, Personal Archive

Posted on Leave a comment

National championship & TdF announcement

The national championship individual time trial took place yesterday in Karteljevo near Novo mesto. Jan Tratnik (Team Bahrain Victorious) won the title again on a 28.8 kilometers long route with some uphill and downhill sections. Thus, he will proudly wear the national champion jersey on ITTs one more year. His team mate, Matej Mohorič was second and Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) finished third.

»I’m extremely happy to defend the title. It was a tight battle with Matej until the finish line but I somehow managed to squeeze out the needed power to secure the win. I had good legs, I feel my performance is back on track and I also liked the route. I actually really enjoyed the race.”

Next week on Friday, the 1st of July we mark the beginning of the most prestigious three-week race, the Tour de France. In these days, the teams are releasing their line-ups of riders who will fight for the yellow jersey. Team Bahrain Victorious just announced their line-up of riders who will race on the Tour de France, including Jan Tratnik.

“I’m very proud and grateful to my team, which selected me for the Tour de France. I didn’t know what the decision would be until the last minute. Nevertheless, after my Giro crash, I refocused all my energy and training on Tour, hoping I would be selected. I can say the preparation period was very successful, my wrist is ok now and I think I’m ready for Tour. It’s true, Tour is a race on the next level and you need time to prepare not just physically but also mentally. I didn’t have that much time to do the latter, but I still believe I made the needed shift in my mind and I’m ready for it. I’m very excited and can’t wait for it to start.”

Photo: Prijavim.se & Team Bahrain Victorious

Posted on Leave a comment

Tour of Slovenia & “Syuk’s corner”

The 28th edition of the Tour of Slovenia finished last Sunday in Novo mesto. In just five days, the peloton covered quite a substantial part of Slovenia ranging from Nova Gorica, Rogaška Slatina, Celje, Velika Planina, and Novo mesto. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the race, while Tratnik’s team mate Domen Novak (Team Bahrain Victorious) was third in the general classification. The most important goal for Jan was to get back to racing and help his team to achieve some good results.

»After more than a month I’m back at racing. Till the last minute the team and I weren’t really sure if I’m ready or not. Eventually, the pain in my wrist was not an issue anymore and we decided I can race the Tour of Slovenia. My main goal was to get back to the racing rhythm as soon as possible and help my team achieve some good results. I can say, I did a few mistakes during the race because after one month I didn’t know how good I am. All in all, I’m happy with my performance. As a team, we were very active during the race by starting a few attacks, which sometimes ended up unsuccessful. Nevertheless, we trained well and made the race more exciting. I’m happy I finished the race and improved my performance.

I saw a lot of fans throughout the race, which makes me very happy. It shows how cycling is growing in Slovenia. I would like to thank everybody for such warm support, especially my friends and family from Idrija, who did an amazing job organizing the “Syuk’s corner”. It was a little strange to race on the home roads because usually I ride there on the edge of the road, but this time we had the whole road for ourselves. It was a really special day that I will remember forever. I knew my friends and family are waiting for me at the “Syuk’s corner”, which got me to be a little emotional and I really wanted to ride there in the first position.

My energy is now focused on National Championship in the individual time trial. I hope I can recover well from the Tour of Slovenia and do a good race on Thursday.”

Photo: Matic Ozebek

Posted on Leave a comment

A Giro to forget

Giro d’Italia started the previous week and the Grande Partenza was hosted in Budapest this year. The first stage finished uphill, the second was the individual time trial in the streets of Budapest and the last one was a sprint stage. Tratnik was involved in a crash, just a few kilometers from the finish line in the first stage. However, he finished the stage and also did the ITT the next day, but then, unfortunately, had to abandon the race in the third stage due to the enormous pain in his wrist. X-rays show he has a broken wrist and thus Giro ended way too early for him. He is out of racing for a few weeks to heal and will come back even stronger.

“Unfortunately, Giro ended way too soon for me. The consequences of the crash in the first stage are too severe to continue. X-rays show I have a broken wrist (scaphoid) and my hand is not useful. I tried to do the ITT and hope for the best, but my wrist got swollen through the night, I didn’t sleep at all, and I knew it will be a tough day. I still tried and did my best, but the pain was too much. I don’t have any strength in my arm, I’m not even capable to pull the brakes and hold the handlebar properly. By continuing I would only risk another crash, which could have been even worse.

It was very difficult to step off the bike and abandon the race because I put so much effort into preparations for this Giro. Also, my legs felt great the first day. However, I know it was the right decision because there will be plenty of races. My goal now is to heal as soon as possible to come back even stronger. I wish all the best to my team, and I believe they will succeed in the end.”

Photo: Chris Auld Photography, Sprint Cycling Agency