On Sunday, the season of domestic cycling races of an international level will begin with the Grand Prix of Slovenian Istra. By the end of the month, the Grand Prix of Goriška and Vipava valleys (March 23) and the Adria Mobil Grand Prix (March 26) will follow. All eyes will also be on Sanremo on Saturday.
At the press conference of the Cycling Union of Slovenia (KZS) at the presentation of the Slovenian races, the selector of the national team also spoke about their plans Uroš Murn and Matej Mohorič.
After competing in the Strade Bianche race a little over a week ago and finishing 6th there, Mohorič had a free competition schedule, which he used to prepare for this year’s first “monument” Milan-Sanremo, which will take place on Saturday. He will defend last year’s victory on it.
“No one can take that away from me, it will stay with me forever. Realistically, I am aware that winning again is a very difficult task. But I believe that I have good cards in my pocket and honestly also a chance to win again. This race has a very a wide circle of favorites, many different riders can win, including Tadej Pogačar, who is aiming high,” said the currently 19th rider in the world ranking about the test.
Above all, he aims for Paris-Roubaix, which will take place on April 9. A test on the French cobbled roads remains high on the wish list of the experienced rider of the Bahrain-Victorious team. He will be joined by another Slovenian in the Bahrain-Victorious team Matevž Govekar.
“The Paris-Roubaix race is the main goal of the spring, it’s the race I want to win the most. We have guys in the team who will be able to contribute a lot to both my result and the team’s result. I have everything I need for a top result,” said Mohorič.
DP returns to Pokljuka and Radovljica
The domestic racing season will continue in May after three tests in March. The VN Gorenjska will be held on May 21, and the VN Kranje on July 23. The main test on Slovenian soil will be the Race around Slovenia between June 14 and 18.
KZS also revealed the route and dates of the national championship. In the time trial, the cyclists will compete in Pokljuka on June 22, just like in 2020, and the road race will take place three days later in Radovljica, where it returns after four years. He then won on a similar route to this year’s Domain Novak.
For now, the focus of the KZS is on the three races in March. Sports director of the association Martin Hvastija says that it is a paradox of the organization itself and the help to Slovenian cyclists who need points for the UCI International Cycling Union ranking: “Points are the basis for qualifying for the World Championships and the Olympic Games. But as soon as you do the race, the competition is too great for Slovenian cyclists. There are so many countries and teams that it is difficult to win points.”
He believes that the number of domestic races is large enough. “From a financial point of view, this is enough. Such races cost around 35,000 euros with a minimum television broadcast. This must be collected and it is quite a task to organize such races. It would be difficult to do anything more,” explains Hvastija, also the selector of younger members.
He also emphasized that additional exposure is felt due to the many successes of the biggest stars, especially Pogačar, Primož Roglič and Mohorič. He expects mainly long-term effects.
Murn expects the best at the August WC
A big goal of the season for the Slovenians will also be the appearance at the world championship, which will be held between August 5 and 13 in Glasgow. Selector Murn has already seen the route in Scotland and does not expect major problems. At the same time, he is sure that he will be able to welcome all the biggest stars to the national team.
“For the World Championship, I expect everyone to participate. Maybe with the exception of Primož Roglič, who probably doesn’t like the course, but let’s be surprised. For the rest, I hope that they will be happy to participate in the World Championship, if only they are in good shape form. If you ride a good Tour, you’re still in great shape for two to three weeks, if you don’t get sick or ‘burn out’.” Murn said about the staff and the unusual appointment in August.