Jan Tratnik scores his first Worldtour win
The BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM entered the Tour de Romandie with the ambition to compete for the win in each stage. Seeing Jan Tratnik racing to the win in the prologue held in the streets of Neuchâtel still came as a surprise. For the Slovene rider this was the first Worldtour win of his career.
The spirits were high before the 73rd edition of the Tour de Romandie, and as one of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM’s sports directors Vladimir Miholjevic was bullish and optimistic: «We want to get the best possible result in every single stage, and for this we can count on Sonny Colbrelli for sprint finishes and Jan Tratnik for the prologue and the conclusive time trial. As for the overall standings, we’re aiming for a top10 result with Hermann Pernsteiner.» Apart from Pernsteiner, Colbrelli and Tratnik, the team is sending Luka Pibernik, Stephen Williams, Meiyin Wang and Chun-Kai Feng to the Tour de Romandie. The latter rider has just won a Silver medal in the individual time trial and a Bronze medal in the road race for Taiwan at the Asian cycling championships.
Soon enough it became obvious that the riders in red, gold and dark blue had meticulously inspected the course of the prologue held in Neuchâtel: Starting as the third-to-last rider of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, sprint specialist Sonny Colbrelli posted the fastest intermediate time - despite the fact that the first part of the course featured two short climbs. Despite conceding some seconds on the way to the finish, Colbrelli posted a strong time that put him in 4th place for the moment. But things were to get a lot better even: Jan Tratnik paced himself perfectly over the 3.87km long course with its many turns and changes of direction, posted a new fastest intermediate time and went under the time of his compatriot Primoz Roglic. Thus the Slovenian time trial champion got to mount the podium as stage winner and first overall leader of the race. Finishing the prologue in 12th, Sonny Colbrelli only conceded about 6 seconds to Tratnik’s winning time.
«Frankly I surprised myself with this victory - after all this is the first Worldtour win of my career. But during the inspection of the course I knew that I could perform well here», Jan Tratnik commented in the winner’s interview. «As for my race, I focussed on hitting the best lines through all the corners and pacing myself perfectly on the two climbs. This win is something special for sure: Not only is it the first Worldtour victory of my career and the first of the season for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, but I also managed to beat my compatriot Primoz Roglic who is a good friend of mine.» Seeing Jan Tratnik winning the prologue of the Tour de Romandie also serves as a welcome confirmation for MERIDA BIKES’ R&D team, as it shows that the new TIME-WARP TT is a design well capable of winning races at cycling’s highest level.
The 73rd Tour de Romandie continues until next Sunday. Next up, the race features three hilly stages where Sonny Colbrelli might have a chance to win the sprint of a thinned-out peloton. As for the overall standings the two conclusive stages are set to be decisive: On Saturday the race will see its only mountaintop finish in Torgon, and on Sunday the Tour de Romandie will end with an individual time trial over 16.85km in Geneva.
73RD TOUR DE ROMANDIE, PROLOGUE: NEUCHÂTEL, 3.87KM
1. Jan Tratnik, SVN/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 5.06,79 minutes
2. Primoz Roglic, SVN, + 0,39
3. Tom Bohli, SUI, + 0,71