Sprinting in a reduced group after 133.5km from Otočac, Matej Mohorič took third on stage three of the 2023 CRO Race on Thursday.
As on both previous days, Bahrain Victorious were at the front of the bunch throughout, pulling the peloton to catch the break, and controlling the race. Our ‘home’ Croatian rider, Fran Miholjević, was the first to attack within the last ten kilometres, and once he was caught, both Mohorič and young Italian Nicolò Buratti were in the reckoning for victory on the technical finishing circuit.
Buratti – performing strongly again in this, his first year at the top level – managed another top ten result, crossing the line in seventh.
Up ahead, our Slovenian superstar seemed to be in perfect position coming into the final bend. It was a left-hander 100m out, and Matej took the turn second wheel behind Pavel Bittner (DSM). They chose a tight inside line, and didn’t see Tobias Lund Andresen (DSM) come around them on the outside with Nicolò Parisini (Q36.5), who won the day.
Sports Director Michal Golaś was happy with the way the team took on the stage:
“I think the boys rode well: we stayed out of trouble all day and hit the final laps on the front. We had the race under control: Fran attacked the first time over the line, and Nicolò did such a good job on the climb. It seems like he has great legs at the moment.
Of course Matej might be a bit disappointed not to win, and perhaps he was just missing that little extra something.
We were very close to victory today, but of course, we aim for more, and tomorrow, we try again to win the stage.”
Friday sees the ‘Queen Stage’, and the toughest profile of the week. There are five categorised climbs, a total of 3599 vertical metres, and a 2km uphill finish in Labin. Undoubtedly it would be the most prestigious stage to win, and Golaś is confident that the team can come out on top.
“The way tomorrow pans out depends entirely on how the stage is ridden; if there is a big selection, we would hope to have at least three guys in the front group.
We know the finish very well. Both Matej and Fran have trained on these roads many times, and Matej finished third in Labin last year. So we know it’s super hard, 300m uphill over the cobbles, but it suits Nicolò and Matej very well, and with Rainer Kepplinger also in good shape, we have a few cards we can play.”
Stage 4 of Cro Race 2023 starts at 11:50 tomorrow, 191km from Krk to Labin.
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