Two wins at national championship races
The weekend before the start of the Tour de France traditionally is the date when many national federations hold their road cycling championships. Team Bahrain Victorious got to celebrate two wins in elite category races: Jan Tratnik prolonged his title as Slovenia’s ITT champion while Yukiya Arashiro rode to a third national road champion title in Japan.
Japan’s national road cycling championships were held on a circuit around the city of Mihara, close to Hiroshima this year. This circuit was 12.3 kilometres long and featured hardly any truly flat sections, and the men’s elite riders had to do 15 laps on this course. As a result, there was a high likelihood that the strongest rider would finish in first as well. After having dropped out of the Tour de Suisse, Yukiya Arashiro had lost no time to get back to Japan and prepare for these championships. And be ready for his bid for a third road championship title in the elite category after wins in 2007 and 2013 at the age of 37 years. Despite having to fend for himself, Yukiya Arashiro kept the strongest teams and their captains in check, beating his namesake Yudai Arashiro in a two-man sprint. A few days earlier Arashiro had already won the Bronze medal in the men’s elite individual time trial.
Within ten years Slovenia has developed to become a powerhouse in road cycling. Due to this, the successes that riders of Team Bahrain Victorious got to celebrate at the most Slovenian road cycling championships are all the more valuable. In the individual time trial held over a distance of 28.8 kilometers, Jan Tratnik went 8 seconds faster than his teammate Matej Mohoric, thus prolonging his title. Matevz Govekar finished the race in 4th place and thus was crowned as Slovenia's under23 ITT champion. Since Jan Tratnik and Matej Mohoric decided to skip the national championship's road race just as the other riders of the team nominated for the Tour de France, only Govekar and Domen Novak lined up a few days later. While Domen Novak finished the Slovenian championship race in 5th place, Matevz Govekar rode a great race and only got beaten by solo winner Kristjan Koren. Finishing in 2nd in the day's ranking, Govekar won the under23 title in the road race as well.
Another medal at national championships was won by Kamil Gradek who finished the ITT championship race in Poland in 2nd place. As for the Tour de France set to start next Friday in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, Team Bahrain Victorious is vying for a spot on the GC podium with its two co-captains Jack Haig and Damiano Caruso. With Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohoric, two riders get to enjoy a lot of freedoms to go stage hunting. With Kamil Gradek, Luis Leon Sanchez, Jan Tratnik and Fred Wright inject plenty of experience and speed in the flat to the team. Sadly the team has to do without Gino Mäder in France as the young Swiss rider has not sufficiently recovered from the covid infection that forced him out of the Tour de Suisse.
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS ROAD CYCLING
JAPAN, ELITE MEN: MIHARA - MIHARA, 184.5KM
1. Yukiya Arashiro, JPN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:36.28 hours
2. Yudai Arashiro, JPN, st
3. Masaki Yamamoto, JPN, + 0.15
SLOVENIA, INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL: NOVO MESTO, 28.8KM
1. Jan Tratnik, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 35.22 minutes
2. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.08
3. Jan Polanc, SVN, + 1.14
Photos: Sprint Cycling Agency, Slovenia Cycling