Simone Consonni takes “double victory” in Slovenia
“Calm before the storm!” That could be the slogan of the first stage of 25th edition of the Tour of Slovenia, with start in Lendava and sprint finish in Murska Sobota.
Dark clouds were above the cyclists nor the whole day, the storm somehow moved away and it didn’t caused a lot of problems for the 151 cyclists on the race. However, there was different kind of storm cooking up…
The stage developed as expected, with the escape early on after Lendava and short visit to Lenti in Hungary, and then the game of cat and mouse until the teams with the sprint favorites decided to take full control of the race. Last two laps on the street of Murska Sobota were very dramatic, some riders even used the work chaotic. There were a lot of teams that wanted to have their rider in the best possible position for the final straight. About 1,5 kilometers ahead of the finish line first crash happened, Caleb Evan (Mitchelton-Scott) was among the unlucky riders there. A little bit later Rafal Majka (BORA hansgrohe) – favorite for the green jersey crashed – but didn’t lost any time to other favorites like Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) or Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale), they were all given the same time.
Meanwhile a small group remained in the front, and head to head battle begun. Italian Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) was the one who made the best out of his position and took the stage victory (his first professional victory) and the green jersey of the race leader.
Simone Consonni: “Teams Mitchelton-Scott and LottoNL-Jumbo both set very good trains, but I was the one that managed to take advantage of good position in the chaotic finish, and won. I was behind Groenewegen and I almost crashed as well, but I managed to avoid it. I didn’t expect a victory, but I’m very happy for it. It feels like I would take double victory.”
It was complete Italian victory in Murska Sobota, with Matteo Pelucchi (BORA Hansgrohe) and Nicolo Bonifazio (Bahrain Merida) joining Simone on the podium. Best Slovenian was Luka Mezgec (Mitchelton – Scott) in fourth place.
Luka Mezgec: “Teams came from all over in the last kilometers, they surprised us and came behind us fast. We’re fighting for positions, then Caleb crashed behind me… I didn’t know that at that time. Roger Kluge and I take a look at each other wondering where he is. After that we’re just looking for the best position for the last 200 meters. I might had started to early, but I’m happy that I could really gave everything when I had to and that makes me happy.”
Earlier in the race we followed a breakaway of five riders: Nik Čemažar (Slo, Slovenian National Team), Benjamin Hill (Aus, Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum), Jon Božič (Slo/Adria Mobil), Juraj Bellan (Slk/Dukla Banska Bystrica) & Martin Haring (Slk/Dukla Banska Bystrica). Božič and Hill were the strongest in this group and took all of the bonuses available on the intermediate sprints and sole mountain finish. Jon Božič is now in the white jersey of best young rider, Benjamin Hill is leading the KOM classifications.
Second stage of the race will start in Maribor and finish in Rogaška Slatina, the route is not as flat as today, but we again expect a sprint finish.
Photos: Vid Ponikvar / Sportida