Three wins at national championships
One week before the start of the Tour de France, national road cycling championships were held in many countries. As for the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious, the highlights were the wins by Sonny Colbrelli and Matej Mohoric in the Italian and Slovenian road race championships, respectively and of Jan Tratnik in the Slovenian time trial championships. Marco Haller finished the road rad in Austria in 2nd, adding another podium result to the tally.
Throughout the last week national cycling championships were held in many countries, with the individual time trials being raced on weekdays and the men’s road races as the main event on Sunday. One rider of Team Bahrain Victorious who was especially poised to do well at the national championships was Sonny Colbrelli. Firstly the Italian sprinter has been showing an excellent shape in recent weeks, secondly the course around Imola looked suitable to his strengths while being a bit too hard for pure sprinters. And thirdly Colbrelli had finished the Italian national road championships in 3rd in 2020 and in 2nd in 2019. Winning the coveted Italian champion’s jersey was overdue for Sonny Colbrelli, and for the championship race he could rely on the able support of Damiano Caruso, Eros Capecchi and Jonathan Milan.
But at first a breakaway with lesser known riders went up the road on the loop around Imola that also passed some sections of the Formula 1 circuit. Once the peloton had reduced the lead of the breakaway significantly, Fausto Masnada attacked. Sonny Colbrelli reacted to this attack, and he and Masnada managed to bridge the gap to the breakaway. From there, these two managed to get rid off all companions except for Samuele Zoccarato on the climbs, and the latter was dropped soon after. Despite a number of attempts Masnada could not distance Sonny Colbrelli in the finale, so the race for the national championship in Italy came down to a two-up sprint. Colbrelli made no mistake, timed his acceleration to perfection and won the race with a significant margin - and this his first Italian champion jersey.
The road championships in Slovenia were held on a course around the city of Koper that had to be ridden ten times. With Matej Mohoric and Jan Tratnik of Team Bahrain Victorious, Tadej Pogacar, Jan Polanc and Kristian Koren, five riders left the peloton behind on the first lap and built a lead that grew to more than four minutes. In the seventh lap, Pogacar attacked on a climb but was brought back after a short chase by Jan Tratnik. One lap later Matej Mohoric and Jan Polanc attacked and got away. These two worked together for a while, defending a lead of more than one minute while the other riders from the early breakaway were caught by the peloton. On the last lap it was Jan Polanc who attacked first on a climb, but Matej Mohoric managed to get back to him ad drop his rival on rolling terrain. Thus Mohoric got to celebrate his second win at the national championships of Slovenia after 2018 as a solo winner.
One and a half minutes later Jan Tratnik only was beaten by Luka Mezgec in the sprint for 3rd. A couple of days earlier, Jan Tratnik had competed at the Slovenian individual time trial championships that were held on a mostly flat course between Koper and Izola. Tratnik paced his effort well, starting out with a fast first lap, putting plenty of watts on the pedals and still only went under Jan Polanc’s time by nine seconds. Still Tratnik’s time was good enough to win his third national time trial title after 2015 and 2018. Apart from the three national championship titles, the riders of Team Bahrain Victorious got to celebrate another top3 result in Austria: For a long time Marco Haller was part of a three-rider breakaway with Patrick Gamper and Patrick Konrad, and he only got dropped by the latter to finish the championship race in 2nd.
As for the Tour de France that starts on June 26th in the Bretagne, Team Bahrain Victorious has nominated a strong selection of riders, aiming at a top10 result in the overall standings for Jack Haig and at supporting newly-crowned Italian national champion Sonny Colbrelli in his bid for the green jersey. With the likes of Wout Poels, Pello Bilbao, Dylan Teuns and Matej Mohoric the team has some serious options for stage wins in various terrain, and Marco Haller and Fred Wright will be in charge of closing down caps to breakaways and keeping Sonny Colbrelli well protected and out of harm’s way.
NATIONAL CYCLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
ROAD RACE ITALY: IMOLA, 225.9KM
1. Sonny Colbrelli, ITA/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 5:29.25 hours
2. Fausto Masnada, ITA, + 0.02
3. Samuele Zoccarato, ITA, + 0.37
ROAD RACE SLOVENIA: KOPER, 172KM
1. Matej Mohoric, SLO/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 4:00.35 hours
2. Jan Polanc, SLO, + 0.15
3. Luka Mezgec, SLO, + 1.38
INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL SLOVENIA: KOPER - IZOLA
1. Jan Tratnik, SLO/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, in 37.07 minutes
2. Jan Polanc, SLO, + 0.09
3. Tadej Pogacar, SLO, + 0.34
ROAD RACE AUSTRIA, KUSTEIN
1. Patrick Konrad, AUT, in 4:08.43 hours
2. Marco Haller, AUT/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.33
3. Patrick Gamper, AUT, + 1.11
Images Italy: Bettini Photo
Images Slovenia: Ales Fevzer