Silver medal in the Masters World Championships in Ljubljana!

When we learned that this year's Veterans World Championships will be held in Ljubljana, it was a huge news for us. And plans of assault on a medal were on! After the dates of all ultra races were published, it became clear that my preparation for the road race and time trial will not be optimal. One of the main objectives of my season, race around Switzerland / Tortour (1.009km long race with 14.000m of climbing) will end only two weeks prior to the World Championships.

Thus, preparations for the World Champs were not exactly specialized. I was actually preparing for my "own" ultra-cycling races, but as always devoted some time to the time trial, which is one of the events I love the most. Using the power meter Pioneer my fitness was rising nicely before Tortour and in that race I was doing great until the last tenth of the race. At that time my energy levels have simply fallen bellow a minimum, so I unfortunately lost the first place. I had no time for mourning, because it was time to get ready for the next event. All I could do is try to recover the bedt I can. With quite a few massages and regenerative rides with Irma, my legs were slowly gaining the racing speed back. In the time trial it was solid, my time for 19 km was 24 min 29 sec. I was pleased with the time and average speed (45,5km/h) but by no means with my placement to 12th spot. In addition, the feeling during the race was not right, I think it had all to do with fatigue from Tortour.

That’s the reason why I didn’t have and big wishes or dreams for the road race, except that I do my best and make the race as selective as I can. I was prepared to help my teammates from National Team to the desired medals. We knew who of us is the best climber, who are good sprinters, and I got the role of a sort of joker who tries with attack in small groups far from the finish line. Through Ljubljana two of our team mates Iztok Kuret and Lucjan Premrn were at the head of affairs, leading the group through town so fast that nobody could attack.  It was really nice to see that the National Team at the front of the affairs. In Brezovica after a few attacks of foreigners only Izo was left at the front. He singlehandedly caught all these attacks and dragged a group of up to Vrhnika climb, the first climb of the day. After the race we talked with the winner Canadian Bruce and he told me it was amazing to see how united our team was working and he wanted to know who was the "locomotive" that dragged a group of first 30km of the race. Good job, Izo!

On the Vrhnika climb an American Team member was pulling fast enough that no one even thought to attack. On the planes to Logatec there was deja-vu at the head of the group, Izo and Lucjan were flying again. On a small incline before Godovič there were suddenly some foreigners in the lead and the pace was quite low, so I tried with the first attack. Of course a few riders went with me, but no one wanted to give help me in the break, so we slowed down. In the Team meeting before the race we agreed to try to attack on a downhill towards Idrija (because Brelih could do the descent blindfolded). Some 100m before the start of the descent so I picked up Brelih to pull him to the front of the group. Since Lucjan was also near, I pulled the first part of the descent. Before the first turnaround Bostjan flew by, followed by Lucjan and 4 or 5 other riders. Their attack stuck for a few kilometers, but the foreigners were not exactly in the mood to cooperate. The group has been stretched, but the first runners only gained a few seconds. When they were caught and the group started to slow down. I shifted to the hardest gear and flew past the group, pulled 200m or 300m and only then looked behind. It turns out that I was only followed by the Canadian and Ukrainian. And they were strong and ready for action! I had a considerable problem getting into their slipstream. It was full gas for a couple of kilometers through Idrija and beyond. We could still see the peloton behind us, so nobody in our little group was saving himself.

Our advantage continued to grow and we hit the big Kladje climb with a nice lead. Bruce hit the front at the first, steepest part of the climb and the Ukranian started to lose contact. I stuck to my plan of staying around 400W on the climb, so I trailed Bruce 10 or 20 meters and rode my own tempo. When the climb leveled up a bit, I caught him back, passed him and continued with my tempo. We were doing great as the following group was nowhere to be seen behind. At the top I took the new bottle of Winforce from my friend Matic and took the lead on the descent. There was just the two of us left, so there was not bluffing - full throttle on the descent! We were as committed as you can get. As long as we kept our advantage, there were two medals for us to be taken. Nobody was thinking of gold yet. We were catching group after group of riders dropped from younger categories, but just kept working together. We knew that the group behind would not be as cohesive and we had a chance of winning.

And so we flew towards the finish. Before Škofja loka we caught a large group of about 50 riders, which we dragged all the way to Ljubljana. Here some attacking started and for some time I were boxed in the middle of the group, nervously looking if Bruce would be trying to follow some attacks. The speed of the group dropped down to 37km/h, se with Bruce we just looked each other  in the eye and were almost instantly back at the head of the group, pulling it full gas towards the finish line. two kilometers before the finish the speed started to raise again, as the regroup was preparing to sprint for minor places. Some confusion arose here, because it was necessary to fight for positions, despite the fact that the two of us were about to the sprint for the gold medal. As I didn’t see Bruce in front of me, I assumed (correctly as he told me later), he was probably behind me waiting for the sprint. I decided to hit the final turn first and then go full out and the Finish line,   what will be, will be. Well, so it happened and 150m before the finish I was still in front. Unfortunately, there is where Bruce flew past with a much higher speed and beat me for the entire length of the bike. A deserved win and well deserved silver medal for me, because we worked our asses of like I don’t remember when, probably never… Certainly a very hard-earned medal - my average power for the entire race was incredible 340W.

Statistic data from my PIONEER Power Meter:
Riding Time  3:45:52
Distance  156.40 [km]
Elevation Gain  1212.0 [m]
Avg. Cadence  90.1 [rpm]
Avg. Speed  41.0 [km/h]
Max. Heart Rate  173 [bpm]
Avg. Heart Rate  151 [bpm]
Max. Pedaling Power  980.1 [W]
Avg. Pedaling Power  303.3 [W]
Max. Pedaling Efficiency  75.0 [%]
Avg. Pedaling Efficiency  47.4 [%]
nPower  339.7 [W]

P. S. This one silver medal is not only mine, but also of the other members of the Slovenian Nationa Team in our category, we showed how to race in style “all for one and one for all”. Thank you goes to all members of the team, you were awesome guys!
If the Slovenes in all areas of life would be able to work together like this, our lives would be much nicer ...

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