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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

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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: & Team Bahrain Victorious

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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

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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

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Call for rest days

Another Belgian classic was on the schedule today, the Brabantse Pijl. However, the racing conditions were not ideal as most of the time was raining and the road was very slippery. After 200 kilometers of racing, Magnus Sheffield (INEOS Grenadiers) was the first to cross the finish line. Quite a number of riders didn’t finish the race, Tratnik among them.

“I simply didn’t feel good today. After Amstel Gold Race I was very tired and obviously, I didn’t fully recover. The rain made the legs even stiffer and when we came to the final laps, I just couldn’t follow the best riders. Instead of keeping up with the best, I was losing positions. I didn’t have the right power and energy and that’s why I quickly lost contact with the peloton. I’m not disappointed because I gave it all and the first part of the season was very successful. I’m going back home now to rest and recover. After that, I’m focusing on Giro d’Italia.”

Also, the fans are focusing on Giro d’Italia. We created a special limited-edition shirt “Grande Syuk” for that occasion. You can order it in the shop and support Jan on Giro. The race will also lead the riders through Slovenia and that’s something we are really looking forward to.

Photo: Sprint Cycling Agency, Luc Claessen (Getty Images)

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From Belgian to Ardennes Classics

Racing continues in the Netherlands at the Ardennes Classics. Amstel Gold Race was on the schedule today in total of 254 km from Maastricht to Valkenburg. Around 50 km to the finish line, the peloton broke into smaller groups. Tratnik had some mechanical troubles and remained in the second group. Nevertheless, he fought to the finish line and crossed it in 12 place, less than half a minute behind the winner, Michal Kwiatkowski (INEOS Grenadiers). Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroen Team) was second after a tight finish line.

“I came very motivated to the race. We had a very strong team and more scenarios prepared. Unfortunately, I had some bad luck because I had to change the bike twice at the time when the peloton speeded up. I spent quite some energy coming back. I was also lucky because I wasn’t involved in a crash, but still, I had to pull the brakes and stop. I lost a lot of positions and thus some energy, which I could use in the finale. When we came in the last 60 km I felt I didn’t eat enough and didn’t feel good. I tried to eat some gels and recover but I was in deficit all the time so I couldn’t follow the key attack. I went solo then and tried to catch the first group, but I didn’t have enough power. Despite all the bad luck, I’m happy but I know I could be better. I will race Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday and then I’m going home for a quick rest and last preparations before Giro d’Italia.”

JT Team also started gearing up for Giro. We created a limited-edition shirt Grande Syuk 2022, which you can get in a preorder. Check out the Shop for more information here!

Photo: Sprint Cycling Agency

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The Belgian week

“De Ronde is one of the biggest races and we exceeded our expectations. I knew our conditions is very good, but things can quickly go wrong at such great and legendary race. We all know it’s important to start the cobbles sections and narrow roads in the first ten positions. The problem is that the whole peloton knows that. There are crashes and the race is lost easily. You could be the strongest, but you can be out of competition for the best results very quickly.

My race was quite calm for the first 150 km. I was saving energy for the last 100 km when the real racing actually begins. I made quite some mistakes because I started the cobbles sections in the back but on the other hand, I was also lucky. There were quite some crashes, and I wasn’t involved in any. Also, I was there at the key moments, I stayed focused and managed to start these sections more in front. I held a good position when we passed Kwaremont the second time, which allowed me to attack on Paterberg. You never know when “the” moment on this race is. Unfortunately, that was not the one. I couldn’t follow Pogačar. We had Fred in front then, so Dylan and I were just controlling things in the back. There was a lot of attacks, also in our group, but Dylan and I mutually covered them. Unfortunately, my attack was not successful, but it was the one of Dylan who managed to join Fred and then they raced for the best results. I stayed in this group and controlled the situation. I think I did a good sprint at the finish line, but there just wasn’t any power left in the tank. Also, I sprinted with some of the greatest sprinters and I’m not a sprinter. Bottom line, I’m happy with my performance. I was there in some key moments, I attacked and, in some way, shaped the race. Maybe, with a little bit more luck, the final result would’ve been better but most important for me is that I know I can race for the best results in this race. This gives me additional motivation to dedicate some more time and energy preparing for those races because apparently, I can be good at it. I’m leaving Belgium extremely happy, motivated, and very excited for the Ardennes. I will race Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, and then Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday.

To all cycling fans… I highly recommend you go and see the race live. The experience can’t be described with words. Each time we rode Kwaremont I got goose bumps. Even though it stank of beer, Belgium really is the home of cycling. It doesn’t matter if you cross the finish line first or last, you are a hero for them. Just because you are on a start of such a legendary race.”

(Jan left his mark at De Ronde with his race style and 12. place in the end.)

Foto: Chris Auld Photography

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Top 10 at Dwars!

Belgian classics are in full swing! We witnessed some amazing racing today at Dwars door Vlaanderen. As usual, the peloton split into several small groups. In the end, Matthieu Van Der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) was the fastest as he successfully beat other classics specialists that were in his group such as Benoot, Pidcock, Campenaerts, Politt, and Kung. Tratnik crossed the finish line 9th, 2 minutes and 8 seconds behind the winner. He outsprinted Pogačar (UAT Team Emirates) and Madouas (Grupama – FDJ).

»These races are new for me. I already raced some of them in 2019, but I lack more experience. I made a lot of mistakes today and spent too much energy in the first part of the race because I don’t know the roads. Too many times I was at the end of the peloton, which is not a good position to be in at classics. When the key attack happened, I was way too behind to react to it. What was left for me was to try to catch the breakaway but that was almost mission impossible. Luckily, Tadej was with me and we worked well together. Ninth place is a nice result for me, the whole race was a great experience and I can’t wait for Sunday.«

Photo: Sprint Cycling Agency

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Victorious “Primavera”

It was the longest day in the office for riders today as they rode from Milano to San Remo. The fastest got there after six hours and a half. As it was expected, the race began with a breakaway, which was caught in the final stage of the race. The tempo was extremely high in the last 20 km and only a small group of riders remained including the Slovenians: Jan Tratnik, Matej Mohorič (both Bahrain-Victorious), Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), and Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). Mohorič attacked on the descent from Poggio and managed to keep the small advantage as he crossed the finish line. It was a great day for Bahrain-Victorious. Tratnik also performed extremely well, and he finished 9th.

This day couldn’t be better. Matej won, I was 9th and Caruso finished 15th. We weren’t really sure how things will unfold for us because Matej was injured after Tirreno. My job was to survive Cipressa and help others on Poggio. Everything went great, with no problems during the race. The tempo on Cipressa was really high and only 25 riders remained. I realized I’m in very good shape and I helped Matej so he could start Poggio in the first position. Meanwhile, I tried to stay with the best riders as long as possible. Maybe I would make a better result if a rider didn’t crash 3km before the finish line and we had to close the gap. One kilometer to the finish I was empty, but it was an amazing day for our team. I’m very happy and proud. This is probably one of the best results for me on one-day races.”

Photo: Sprint Cycling Agency

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A bad beginning makes a good ending

Another beautiful Italian race came to an end. Tirreno-Adriatico started with an individual time trial and finished with a sprint stage, which was won by Tratnik’s teammate Phil Bauhaus. Tadej Pogačar (Team UAE Emirates) won the general classification, followed by Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious). Jan Tratnik once again did an outstanding job as a domestique and thus contributed to his team’s success.

“Tirreno Adriatico didn’t start as we expected. We already lost time in the opening ITT and the sprint stages didn’t go well for us. However, yesterday was a breakthrough and things started to shift. Landa came third in the general classification, and today we won the stage with Phil and the best team classification. It once again showed that a bad beginning makes a good ending.

I’m very happy with my performance and job done in the race. I always did what needed to be done. Maybe I’m a little disappointed with my performance on the ITT, but overall, it was a great race. I was a domestique for sprint and mountain stages, which I think indicates my good condition. I will take a few days off to recover and then I’m looking forward to racing Milan – San Remo next weekend.”

Photo: Simone Colpo & Poci’s Official