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The Olympic experience

Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) came third to the finish line after 234 kilometers of racing on the Olympic Road race. Jan Tratnik contributed a lot to this bronze medal as he was pulling the peloton for more than 100 kilometers and helped the team’s leaders save their energy for the finale.

“I’m very happy to be part of this bronze medal. I felt great during the whole race, and it was an honor to work for two leaders such as Primož and Tadej. I know I can’t win on such a hilly route, but if there is a chance for me to contribute to the team’s success, I will give it my all. I’m also very happy that we got what we came for. Of course, it would be better if we won, but since other teams were racing against us, we got the maximum out of it. I’m proud to be part of this story, especially because it was my first Olympics.

Our trip to Tokyo was long and exhausting. We didn’t have much time to adapt to the new environment and time zone. Also, it’s very hot here, and the humidity is extreme. It wasn’t easy, and I had some problems on training for the first two days, but then I started to feel better.

Too bad we can’t experience the Olympics as we should in non-Covid times. To make It easier, logistics-wise, cyclists slept separately, not in the Olympic village. We also didn’t participate in the opening ceremony. At least spectators were allowed to cheer for us by the road and in the finish zone. We are coming back to Slovenia on Monday, so we don’t have the option to go around and enjoy ourselves as tourists for a couple of days.

When I come home, I will take a day or two easier, but then I have to continue with preparation for La Vuelta, which starts on August 14.”

Photo: Personal archive & Bettini Photos

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Road to Tokyo

Jan took a few days off after the first part of the season, but not for long. He is already on an altitude training camp with the team, preparing for the second part of the season. The main goals will be the Olympics and La Vuelta.

“I took some time for myself after the Nationals. I only rode my bike to wake my body up a little bit, no longer than one hour. I spend most of the time at home, with my girlfriend and friends. It was a short but sweet break.

Now I’m at an altitude training camp in Livigno. After a week of holidays, I feel recharged and motivated for the second part of the season. This altitude training camp is an important part of the preparation to get me in my best shape. I started with easier and shorter training just to get used to the altitude. In the next week, I will start with more intense and longer trainings.

The first goal of the second part of the season is the Olympic Games in Tokyo. I’m very happy and proud to be a part of the Slovenian national team. I’m sure it will be an exciting experience, also because it will be the first Olympics in my career. I want to thank the sports director Hauptman for giving me this opportunity. I will do my best to come to Tokyo in the best shape possible. I still have some training to do, but there is enough time.

After Tokyo, I will focus on Vuelta and World Championship. I will probably race on some other races in between, but that is something we still have to decide with the team.”

Photo: Personal archive, Slovenian Olympic Team,

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National champion ITT!

Jan Tratnik is national champion in individual time trial! He was the fastest on the 30 kilometers long route coming to the finish line in front of Jan Polanc and Tadej Pogačar (both UAE-Team Emirates) for 9 and 34 seconds, respectively.

“I’m very happy with the result I achieved on the nationals, but I didn’t feel 100%. The heat made it very difficult to ride our bikes and it was a problem for me too. After half of the race, I didn’t believe I can win because my legs were burning, and I was losing good rhythm. When they told me from the car that I was winning, I got extra motivation to hold up for the next 10 minutes, and then it will be over. It was a good fight with Polanc and Pogačar. I succeeded and got my third national champion title in the time trial. I can’t wait for the next time trial to wear a new jersey.”

Photo:, Chris Alud

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Racing on home roads

June is a cycling month in Slovenia. It started with the Tour of Slovenia, which was won by Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates). Also, the national championship will take place at the end of the month. We will watch individual time trial and road race, both in Koper and nearby.

“Tour of Slovenia is in the books. It was great to race here again after three years. The atmosphere was fantastic! All the fans at the road cheering for us and how they decorated the cities we passed – amazing. Slovenia is becoming a cycling nation, which is even more obvious after each race here. Also, it’s the best feeling knowing that my girlfriend, my closest friends, and family are there to support me. It gives me extra energy and motivation.

We raced very good as a team. We took two stage wins with Bauhaus, and Matej won the red jersey for points classifications. My role was to help the team. I felt surprisingly strong if we consider I finished Giro not so long ago. There are usually two potential scenarios after a Grand Tour. You either feel super strong or you feel extreme fatigue. Luckily, it was the first scenario for me, so I’m very excited for the next race on home roads – nationals. I will fight for the win on a time trial, while the road race will be a lottery, as it is every year. We will have to be careful of breakaways, which would include some key riders.

After the nationals, I will have a few days off, which I’m looking forward to. The first part of the season was very tough. I was at home for two weeks in the last four months. After a short break, I will continue my preparation on altitude. Then I hope to race the Olympics with the national team. The most important race in the second part of this season will be la Vuelta.”

Photo: osebni arhiv & Aljaž Markič & Sportida

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Giro after the second rest day

The second week of racing didn’t go by without crashes. Bahrain Victorious is now left with only 5 riders because Matej Mohorič and Gino Mader crashed out of the race. The team had to change its strategy and is now racing on Damiano Caruso, who is currently second in the general classification. Jan is doing amazing work for him. We also saw an outstanding performance on Monte Zoncolan, where he finished second, just 26 seconds behind Lorenzo Fortunato (EOLO-Kometa). Egan Bernal (INEOS Grenadiers) is still leading in the general classification.

»The second week flew by very quickly. All stages were very stressful and difficult, except for stage 13, which was flat (as a pancake ;)) and didn’t cause us any trouble. I recovered well after the first rest day and my legs were much better then. It was very important for us to do everything we could to keep Damiano as high as possible in the general classification.

I seized the opportunity in stage 14, in which I climbed second to the Monte Zoncolan. Winning such a stage would be a cherry on top, but even though I’m extremely happy with my performance. Especially if you take into consideration characteristics I have as a rider. I gave it all and there is nothing to feel bad about.

Riding in Slovenia the next day filled me with a lot of new energy and motivation, even if I didn’t fight for more visible results due to an early crash. It didn’t look as bad as it was from the beginning, but when the race was stopped my knee started to swell and hurt. I rode with quite some pain that day. However, the knee condition is getting better, and I think everything will be ok.

Yesterday’s stage was really tough. Currently, Damiano is second in the general classification, which is pretty amazing if we consider all the bad luck we had as a team. Today’s rest day is well deserved. We have four very difficult stages coming up in the next few days and we will try to defend Damiano’s second place. That’s why my personal goal now is to help Damiano and perform well on a time trial in Milan.”

Photo: Chris Auld & Giovanni Crea

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Giro after the first rest day

The first week of Giro is done. Gino Mader (Team Bahrain Victorious) won in stage 6. Egan Bernal (INEO Grenadiers) is leading the general classification after the first rest day. The first part of the race was determined by quite some crashes. Unfortunately, Bahrain Victorious’s leader Mikel Landa crashed out of the race too.

»First week, or better first half of the Giro, is done and dusted. In general, I’m satisfied with how everything turned out. I’m only a little bit disappointed with the first ITT stage, but I gave it all and I can’t blame myself. I’m very proud of the fifth place in the hilly stage, in which I was in a breakaway. Honestly, I didn’t expect to be that good, especially because that kind of finale isn’t the best for me. It was a great day and I pulled it perfectly.

Overall, my job is to help the teammates in the fight for the general classification. We had some bad luck with Landa and Matej crashing out of Giro. That’s why our strategy changed a little bit. However, we still have Caruso in the top 10, which means I will help him. At the same time, I will still try to find some opportunity to seize for my own.

I can also say I had two or three bad days when my legs didn’t feel right. I felt really empty on stage 10 and far from my best. I’m really happy today was a rest day. I hope I will recover in the next few days and I will be able to do my job 100%. I know I will be happy with myself if I will do my best and meet the team’s expectations.«

Photo: Chris Auld & Bettini Photo

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Tour de Romandie + Giro d’Italia

Tour de Romandie is in the books and it was won by Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers). It was good preparation for Jan since he will be starting Giro d’Italia in the upcoming days. Even though his role will be to help team leaders, he is fully focused on the first stage, the prologue in Torino, which suits his characteristics.

»I have mixed feelings for Tour de Romandie. I’m satisfied with my performance in the first stages, especially the 6th place in the prologue. However, I had problems with cold weather in the third stage, so I wasn’t able to ride as good as I could. Similarly, I didn’t have the best day in the last stage for ITT. I couldn’t keep my high power throughout the stage. I know this was just a bad day because I proved in the previous stages I can race better. The last ITT is forgotten, and I’m already focused on the next race.

I’m going to Giro d’Italia, where we will race with a really strong lineup. The main goal is to help Landa win the Giro. I will also get my chances in some stages and ITTs. I will try to seize every opportunity I get. My big personal goal will be on the first day with a prologue in Torino. I’m also very excited about the stage which will pass my home country, Slovenia. Overall, my main goal is to give 100% in helping Landa and seize every opportunity I will get to race on my results.«

Photo: Katarzyna Verschuren (IG: kasiaqrek) & Bettini Photo

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La Primavera

It usually takes a little less than seven hours for riders to reach San Remo after 300 kilometers riding alongside the Liguria coast’s idyllic landscape. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) won the monument this year after he bravely attacked in the last two kilometers. Sonny Colbreli and Matej Mohorič (both Team Bahrain Victorious) were involved in a small group sprint and finished on the 8 and 11 places, respectively.

“It was my first Milan – San Remo and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot. I was again in the role of the domestique, this time, I was helping Matej. It means I took care of him from kilometer 0 to the final and crucial parts of the race, such as the Cipresse climb. I like the race. It’s very beautiful. However, if your role is to help your teammates, you lose a lot of energy at the beginning of the race, which makes it impossible to fight for a good result in the end. I didn’t feel 100% good because I’m still tired from Tirreno. Anyway, I fought my way throughout the race and did my job properly. I’m heading home now, where I will rest for a couple of days before I travel to Tenerife for an altitude training camp.”

Photo: Bettini Photo

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Race of the Two Seas

Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) won the stage race from Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic sea. Jan did an excellent job as a domestique to Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious), who finished the race in third place in the general classification, a little less than four minutes behind the winner.

I’m extremely happy with the first racing days in the new season. We gave it all for Landa as our leader in this race, which means I was a domestique. It’s very important we find the team spirit and get on with each other well because I will be on the team for Giro d’Italia. My condition physically and mentally, is very good. I enjoyed this race each day and did what the team told me to do. The competition was tough, and I wasn’t sure how my legs would be at the start of the race. However, I see now that all the winter preparation is paying off, and I can’t wait for the next races to begin.

Today’s performance on individual time trial was ok, but not great. I think I didn’t allocate my power equally along the course and therefore lost some of it in the last two kilometers. There is room for improvement, and I know I will perform better on the next time trials.

After Tirreno, my racing calendar slightly changes. I’m staying in Italy until Saturday when I will be racing the longest one-day race, the Milan – San Remo.

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Strade Bianche

strade bianche

It was Mathieu van der Poel who won Strade Bianche after an explosive attack on the last climb of the gravel roads of Tuscany. Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) was the best Slovenian rider finishing seventh. Jan did an excellent job in the role of a domestique.

“I tried to go in a breakaway right from the start of the race, but I failed. I then focused on helping my team best, and I put in a lot of effort to enable my teammates to start the gravel sections in first positions. I remained active throughout the race as some attempts to form new breakaways emerged. I did my last job 70 kilometers to the finish line, and then also my legs started to feel emptier. I’m thrilled with how the race went, mostly because I did my job well and felt strong. It was a little bit of a shock for my body to race such a demanding race for the first time in the new season, but no worries since I have a few days to recover before Tirreno-Adriatico starts. I’m very excited about the coming races.”

Photo: Bahrain Victorious Team