Podium results at Tour of Slovenia
For Team Bahrain Victorious the Tour of Slovenia ended just as it had started four days earlier. A rider of the team finished the stage in 2nd place from a three-rider breakaway. Domen Novak also got to celebrate a 3rd place in GC at his home race. At the Tour de Suisse, the dream of the yellow jersey ended abruptly when the entire team was forced to leave the race following two positive Covid tests in its ranks.
At the Tour of Slovenia Team Bahrain Victorious competed with a selection of riders in support of Domen Novak and Matej Mohoric. These two acted as the team’s two co-captains on home turf, with Novak putting a stronger focus on the general classification and Mohoric targeting stage wins. They could rely on the support of Jan Tratnik, Matevz Govekar, Jasha Sütterlin and Heinrich Haussler, and without a doubt their strongest rivals were Tadej Pogacar and Rafal Majka of Team UAE-Emirates. With over 60 kilometers to go in the first stage of the race, these two attacked on the steep Zadlog climb and Domen Novak was the only rider who could match their pace. These three riders contested for the stage win, with Novak having to settle for 2nd.
While the second stage of the race came down to a bunch sprint, the third stage again featured a steep climb to the finish. Pogacar and Majka attacked again and this time dropped all others while Domen Novak was struggling. Matej Mohoric filled the void and crossed the finish line in 6th place as the best-placed rider of Team Bahrain Victorious. While Heinrich Haussler could not take the start of stage 4 due to a crash the day before, this stage was another mountaintop finish dominated by the same two riders. This time Domen Novak narrowly missed out on a top10 result in 11th, but the Slovene rider held on to 3rd in GC by ten seconds.
The conclusive stage featured the short but very steep Triska Gora climb with 10 kilometers to go. Once again it was Pogacar who attacked, but this time Matej Mohoric managed to keep up with his compatriot. On the way to the top of the climb Majka latched back on, and these three riders would not be brought back on the remaining 8 kilometers to the finish in Novo Mesto. As for the finale, Matej Mohoric did everything right: He left the lead up to Majka, accelerating hard from the slipstream on the ascending cobbled finish straight. But he got passed by Pogacar on the last meters to the line, finishing in 2nd. Despite almost getting involved in a crash on the final kilometer, Domen Novak held onto 3rd place in the overall standings.
At the Tour de Suisse Stevie Williams got to wear the yellow leader’s jersey for four days following his upset win in the opening stage. But with Gino Mäder and Hermann Pernsteiner the team lost two key riders due to gastrointestinal issues and dehydration before the challenging stage 5 with its undulating Classics profile ridden in brutal heat. With the notable exception of young Italian Edoardo Zambanini, all remaining riders of Team Bahrain Victorious finished this brutally hard stage in the gruppetto. But things were still to get worse, as the entire team was forced out of the race the next morning due to two positive Covid tests in its ranks.
28TH TOUR OF SLOVENIA, STAGE 1: NOVA GORICA - POSTOJNA, 164.7KM
1. Rafal Majka, POL, in 4:02.10 hours
2. Domen Novak, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 0.02
3. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, st
STAGE 5: VRHNIKA - NOVO MESTO
1. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, in 3:42.35 hours
2. Matej Mohoric, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, st
3. Rafal Majka, POL, + 0.03
FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS:
1. Tadej Pogacar, SVN, in 19:18.09 hours
2. Rafal Majka, POL, + 0.12
3. Domen Novak, SVN/TEAM BAHRAIN VICTORIOUS, + 2.32