Rein Taaramae (Katusha) won stage 2 of the Tour of Slovenia and by doing so also rode into the leaders yellow jersey. Jack Haig (Orica-Greenedge) was 2nd on the stage and Egan Bernal (Androni-Giacatolli) finished 3rd.
It was the queen stage of the Tour of Slovenia as 4 categorised climbs made up the 217km route from Nova Gorica to Golte. The final climb was the 15km road up to Golte and this is where the race would be decided. 3 riders from an early breakaway reached the Golte first, but their tired legs could not match the acceleration that came from the peloton and they were caught during the climb to the line.
For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Omar Fraile and Nathan Haas were our men for the final climb. Unfortunately Haas along with Mark Cavendish, fell ill during the stage and both riders had to abandon the race. Back to the final climb, and with 10km to go, Fraile had Kristian Sbaragli and Nic Dougall for support. With 5km to go though, only 12 riders remained in contention, Fraile and Sbaragli both still in contention. The acceleration of Taaramae and Haig at 4km to go was the move which dictated the pace. Nobody could respond as the duo rode away, Haig being distanced by Taaramae in the final kilometer and the Estonian took a good win.
Unfortunately Fraile started cramping and even had to stop momentarily. Sbaragli, normally one of our men for the harder sprint stages, showed he had good climbing legs and rode really well in the end to finish 3’50” down on Taaramae and just outside the top 20. Tomorrow’s difficult hill climb time trial will all but decide the final overall placings with the expected bunch sprint on Sunday not likely to affect the standings.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
Today was a big mountain stage and also very long at 217km. Our plan was to go in the final with Nathan Haas and Omar Fraile. Unfortunately from the start Nathan did not feel healthy. The team supported Omar all the way to the final climb and it turned out that Kristian also climbed very well. 4km from the finish Omar and Kristian were in the front with the favourites but Omar then got cramps and couldn’t follow anymore. Kristian also got dropped but rode his own pace to finish and was our highest placed rider on the stage. Unfortunately Haas and Mark Cavendish both had to stop the race today as they were both not feeling well. Tomorrow is the hard time trial, we will have to see what result we can get but I think Omar can do a good time.