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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

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Race report: Strade Bianche

The peloton gathered in beautiful Tuscany to race the legendary Strade Bianche this weekend. The race, which is known for gravel sections, short and steep climbs, is difficult by itself, however, windy weather was also a key player in the game this time. There was a nasty crash, and a lot of riders were involved. Matej Mohorič (Team Bahrain Victorious) had to abandon the race due to injuries. A little less than 50 km to the finish, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) attacked and won the race. Jan Tratnik once again selflessly sacrificed himself for the team.

“For me, Strade Bianche is the most beautiful race in the season, and I want to race it each year. I already did it three times and thus gathered some experience, which gave me the confidence for this year to try to get a top result. The race unfolded in line with our predictions until there was a nasty crash and Matej had to abandon the race. The team tactics were reorganized towards Bilbao and me. My job was mainly to be there in the final to cover potential attacks. Pellio and I started the most difficult gravel section in front, but Bilbao got a puncture, which ruined our plan. I gave him my bike and then I had to wait for the team car, which was far behind. In this position, I couldn’t fight for the top result anymore. Nevertheless, I’m happy for Bilbao, who finished 5th, despite all the bad luck we had as a team. I’m a little disappointed because I felt great and also didn’t do any mistakes. Tomorrow is a new day and most importantly, I’m in good shape. I will race Tirreno-Adriatico instead of Matej.”

Photo: Sprint Cycling Agency

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First breakaway of the season

Jan Tratnik started his racing season at a stage race Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Together with a few other riders he spent the day in a breakaway and went solo in the last kilometers on a very steep summit finish. Unfortunately, he was caught at the start of the gravel section near the top. Nevertheless, he showed an outstanding performance at the queen stage of the race. Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) claimed victory and moved into the overall lead.

»It wasn’t my plan to go in a breakaway, but after 50 km of attacks I saw that many teams want to be part of a breakaway, so we needed to be careful and not miss a big group that would ride away. Eventually, a group of 10 riders went and I joined them because I thought it would be better if we, as a team, are represented in front.

I felt good all day and we collaborated with guys on the front pretty well. Unfortunately, the peloton didn’t give us a lot of advantage, so I decided to attack on the last climb and give it all. I was then all alone and just fighting with myself. I already knew the climb, so I also knew that last kilometer is very steep. Unfortunately, when the steep section began, I simply didn’t have energy left in my legs to fight for victory. I’m still happy with my performance at this time of the year and I’m looking forward to next stages and races.”

Photo: Sprint Cycling & Getty Images

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Home of cycling: the Flanders

The 100th anniversary World Championship took place this weekend in Belgium. It was marked by an extraordinary atmosphere, which you can only experience in Belgium, they say. Elite men, ITT was won by Filippo Ganna (Italy), while the Slovenians – Tadej Pogačar and Jan Tratnik took 10th and 15th place, respectively. The time trial was mostly flat and relatively long, 43.4 km). The spectacular road race from Antwerp to Leuven (a total of 268.3 km) was designed as a Belgium classic and was won by Julian Alaphilippe (France). The best Slovenian was Matej Mohorič, who took 14th place.

“World Championship was my last race of this season. I rode a really good ITT, especially considering my characteristics. I’m still haunted by those 10 seconds that made me miss the top 10. Nevertheless, it also gives me extra motivation to work even harder for the upcoming time trials.

As for the road race, I can say it was total chaos. Our team raced excellently, but the route was so difficult that you simply shouldn’t make any mistakes. You had to ride in front all the time because of all the crashes, corners, accelerations, and narrow roads. If you stayed behind, you spent way more energy than the guys in front. It was necessary to race smart. I’m happy with how I raced. You could see that no team wanted to control the race, and that is why attacks started already 180 km to the finish. There was a very strong breakaway, including me and Primož. Unfortunately, the Italians missed it and then chased us down. I’m still wondering how it would be if some of them were there with us. I was still very active in the race after they caught us. I tried to control the race and help Matej save as much energy as possible for the finals.

Then I was again part of a small breakaway, but I spent all my energy there. I’m still very happy with how I raced, how we raced as a team and the atmosphere. We really get along with the guys. Matej was 14th at the end, which is a nice result, but we all probably hoped for more. However, sport is not PlayStation. All guys at the start are really strong, and small things at the end make the difference. We should be all happy and proud because each one of us gave his all, and that’s the most important. We will keep fighting, and I believe, one day, we will get this medal.

The season is over now, and I will take a month-long break. I will go on the bike, MTB but no pressure – I will listen to myself and my motivation to ride. Also, I hope I will be able to go on holidays somewhere to completely relax and come back fresh and ready to start training for next season.”

Photo: Personal archive, Jonathan Rich, Bettini Photos

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La Vuelta: done and dusted

La Vuleta, which started in Burgos, now finished in Santiago de Compostela after three weeks of racing was won by Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma), followed by Enric Mas (Movistar Team) and Jack Haig (Team Bahrain-Victorious). Team Bahrain-Victorious was very successful as they also won the young rider classification by Gino Mäder and best team classification. They beat Team Jumbo-Visma for more than 7 minutes. Tratnik’s best result is third place in the prologue in Burgos. His role was to help his team leaders and he did that with excellence.

“This Vuelta was one of the hardest grand tours I ever did, especially because of the way we raced, the intensity, the heat, and long transfers between stages. Last week was super difficult because we had lots of mountain stages and the tempo was really high. However, it was great to see spectators, who came to cheer for us even in this Covid period.

We made some progress in the last week as a team because Jack then finished third in the general classification and Gino won the best young rider jersey. My role was to help both team leaders. It was a critical moment in stage 20 when Jack got a puncture and I had to drove him back to the peloton. If we failed to do that, the final general classification could be different. It was a moment in which you can see the great importance of teamwork. I also gave it all in the last ITT but I could feel the fatigue from all three weeks and the legs didn’t feel as strong as they should.

I will take a few days off now. After that, I still have the World Championship Road race at the end of September before the off-season starts.”


Photo: Chris Auld, Miwa Iijima, Bettini Photos    

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La Vuelta after the first rest day

The last grand tour of the season takes place in Spain this year from August 14 till September 5. We are talking about La Vuelta. Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo Visma) is leading the race after the first rest day. Damiano Caruso (Team Bahrain Victorious) won the ninth stage. This is Jan’s first Vuelta and he described it as:

“First “week” of racing was though. I started great, taking third place on the prologue. I really wanted to seize my opportunity, but two guys were stronger. Anyway, I gave it all that day, and it was my maximum.

I knew what I had to do the following days – help my team leaders. Only me and Arashiro are here to take care of the guys in flat sections of the stages. We have a lot of responsibility and already had a lot of work to do in the first week. Each stage is very stressful because basically, each day is a chance of echelons. However, the wind is never strong enough to break the peloton. That’s what makes racing really difficult. Each team has the same agenda. As if this is not enough, there is extreme heat. I usually don’t have problems with heat but racing nine consecutive days at 40 degrees Celsius does some damage to the body. We have to make sure the riders have fresh bottles ready all the time because the liquid heats up after 15 minutes.

Up until now, everything is going as planned. Caruso won yesterday, and Haig is in fourth place in the general classification. Regarding my performance, I think I’m not in my best shape compared to previous races, but I also think that is quite normal. I kept a high level of performance throughout the whole season. We can start the second week relaxed and ready to take some new opportunities.”


Photo: Chris Auld, Miwa IIJIMA