Mohoric solos to win at Tour de Pologne

While this year’s edition of the Tour de Pologne was overshadowed by a deadly accident, Matej Mohoric saved the race on the final day from the perspective of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM. After a spectacular solo over 57 kilometres, the young rider from Slovenia got to celebrate an emotional victory in Bukowina Tatrzanska.

For the 76th edition of the Tour de Pologne, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM sent a team that had a solid mix of talent and experience. Domenico Pozzovivo was the team’s designated captain for the overall standings while Matej Mohoric had a free hand to attack at will. These two riders could rely on the support of Chun-kai Feng, Domen Novak, Hermann Pernsteiner, Luka Pibernik and Jan Tratnik. As the team did not bring a sprint specialist it had no choice but to improvise in the first three stages. By infiltrating the sprint trains of other teams, Matej Mohoric scored two top10 results in bunch sprints.

Sadly this year’s edition of the Tour de Pologne will be remembered for a tragedy, however: About 50 kilometres into the rain-soaked stage 3, 22-year-old Belgian Bjorg Lambrecht crashed heavily and died later in the hospital. As a consequence, the fourth stage was neutralized and the riders silently rode to the finish, mourning their deceased friend. The race was back on the next day, and against the expectations of most pundits, it also ended in a sprint of a pretty large group. Teaming up with two other riders, Matej Mohoric had been flying the colours of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM in an attempt to avoid another sprint decision. But the trio got caught in time, and there still were only minimal time gaps in the overall standings before the two conclusive stages at the foot of the Tatra mountain range.

In the finale of the penultimate stage, Domenico Pozzovivo had to let the other overall contenders go on the last ascending kilometre. Seen the narrow margins in the overall standings this pretty much was the end of his ambitions for the overall standings. This also meant that Matej Mohoric got all the freedoms he asked for throughout the final stage that looped around the spa resort of Bukowina through undulating terrain, featuring a steady up and down. The young Slovene of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM made the best of this situation: At first, he made it into the early lead group of fourteen riders. With 57 kilometres to go, he accelerated on an unrated climb and dropped his companions. On the last categorized climb of the race, Mohoric’s attack seemed to come to an end as multiple attacks cranked up the speed of his chasers.

For a few kilometers, Mohoric’s attack seemed doomed and his advantage shrank to 20 seconds. But then the young Slovene fought back, made good use of his stupendous descending skills and extended his lead on the last fifteen kilometers. As a consequence, he got to enjoy his stage win as a soloist to the full, not forgetting to honour the deceased Bjorg Lambrecht on the run-in to the finish line. For Mohoric it was the first win of the season. Domenico Pozzovivo crossed the finish line in the group of the overall contenders. Thus the captain of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM moved up one spot on the last day, finishing the race in 13th and only 31 seconds behind the overall winner.

1. Matej Mohoric, SLO/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 4:04.42 hours

2. Neilson Powless, USA, + 0.55
3. Gianluca Brambilla, ITA, + 1.07