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Tour de Slovaquie: Tratnik moves up to 2nd overall after queen stage

Jan Tratnik proved that his world championships preparations are on track, by taking 4th place in the queen stage of Tour de Slovaquie. Thanks to his strong performance he also climbed up to 2nd place overall.

Info: September 13th,  Poprad – Strbske Pleso, 164,4km

Course: mountainous (7 categorized climbs), mountain top finish (7,3km, 4,9%)

Breakaway of the day went clear on first categorized climb, which was located just 11km into the stage, at the top of Horny Smokovec. It consisted of five riders: Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani), Martin Haring (Dukla BB), Daniel Dina (Pannon Cycling Team), Torjus Sleen (Uno-X) and Emanuel Piaskowy (Hurom). Since Ciccone was a serious threat for the GC contenders, peloton kept the gap at under 2 minutes.

Eventually escape got caught before the finishing, 28-kilometer circuit around Strbske Pleso, that featured 7-kilometer climb, which was tackled twice. The peloton were still quite big while covering the ascent for the first time, but the decisive slope to the finish broke the pack into pieces.

CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders were among the strongest teams, as they had four representatives in the front, in the finale – Adrian Kurek, Mateusz Taciak, Łukasz Owsian and Jan Tratnik. The latter was the one selected to finish off his teammates’ work and he did that very well. He came just short of sprinting into top 3, but was given the same time as the winner, Julian Alaphilippe. Thanks to his performance Slovenian moved up to 2nd overall and the “orange squad” took the lead in teams classification.

In the pre-stage meeting we had agreed, that Łukasz Owsian will be our leader for this mountain stage, but I was also supposed to save as much energy as possible for the final climb. Early in the stage my sensations were not great, but it was probably because of yesterday’s, late and intense prologue.

Thankfully as the kilometers went by I was starting to feel better and better. Before the last ascent I knew that I had legs to contest the uphill finish. My teammates moved to the front of the bunch and in the very finale they did a great job of leading me out. First Mateusz Taciak attacked with 2km to go and I sat on his wheel. With 1km remaining Łukasz Owsian took over the baton and set very strong pace, shattering the group to just handful of riders.

I was very close in the end and I came just short of taking 2nd place. Alaphilippe was out of reach today, but all three of us behind him came across the line almost together. I missed out on top 3 but that result is still very satisfying. If somebody had told me before this mountain stage that I’ll be fighting for victory, it would have been hard to believe. That shows that my form is very good and I’m very optimistic ahead of the world championships.