What happened?

After two days of rest and licking my wounds it is probably time to tell you firsthand what has happened at RAS. It is always difficult to DNF the race, and it has not yet happened to me to have to DNF from leadership positions. It was difficult because of a great crew and awesome fans everywhere along the route at all possible times of the day. The hardest it was probably for me because I do not like withdrawing at all.

My feelings are perhaps best told by Ali on my FB page:
‘Marko, sometimes it takes more courage to decide to end early because the health of the athlete is at stake, rather than try to be brave and carry on with the race at all costs until the end. Hat off to people like you! The real winner for me is the one who says to himself: "I was great, I gave my best, but my health is more important than victory! " Compliments to you and the whole crew. For me, you are true winners! Get well as soon as possible.’

Thanks for your nice words Ali!

As you have seen, some opponents did threathen in the first part of the race, but the Vrsic pass did put things in the right place for me. Slowly I began to accumulate advantage, which at TS  Sostanj was already about 40 minutes in front of second placed racer. After a few longer stops because of No.2, waiting for a train late at night and also putting on the rain attire, this advantage was starting to shrink, but we were confident that I’ll be able to answer any possible challenge(r)s in the last 200 + kilometers. That is until the fateful left turn on the descent before Rogatec came where my wheels sleeped under me and I landed on the ground. Blessing in disguise was that the lion's share of impact was taken by the hip and the head. I don’t know how I could survive re-injuring the same shoulder broken last December, as I have just put it in a reasonably normal operation. The impact to the head was so severe that the bells were ringing in my head for quite some time. The pain in the back of the head was also a cause for our biggest concern with continuing the race. Since I was not completely aware what was happening, we opted for a short rest before continuing and here I was overtaken by Ladler and Štucin. Quite worried about the impact on my head, I carefully continued the descent and then some further kilometers to Time Station at Smarje pri Jelsah. Unfortunately, the pain was getting worse as I continued and even with the strong will to continue the race, after several grueling kilometers, we decided to withdraw.

Of course withdrawal is always painful, but even today I remain convinced that it was the only right decision. Health is the first priority and with the fact that I still have some big ultra-cycling races to do this year, there will be lots of opportunities to prove that I still belong to the elite of the world's ultra-cycling.

From the bottom of my heart I’d like to thank my crew that did a splendid job as always. Lead by my love Irma in the team were Tina Zvanut, Borut Osojnik, Denis Rautovic and Tomaz Znidarsic with the support of my friend Andrew Petrovic. Thanks to all the fans who were cheering for me along the route and through all sorts of social networks - without you ULTRA - bike racing would not be what it is. Many thanks and see you next time!

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