MONDAY, JUNE 19, 2023
Team Jayco AlUla dominated the Tour of Slovenia, scoring three stage wins and the overall victory at the five-day stage race that’s part of the UCI ProSeries.
In one of the final preparation races ahead of the Tour de France, the team’s sprinter Dylan Groenewegen won the opening two stages. Climber Jesús David Peña, a second-year pro from Colombia, claimed his first professional win on a chaotic Stage 4, and the team’s general classification leader Filippo Zana took the overall victory.
Groenewegen kicked things off on day one, powering his Propel Advanced SL team bike with a CADEX WheelSystem to his fifth win of the 2023 season on the 190km Stage 1. His teammates reeled in a four-man break with 20km to go and then set up Groenewegen for the finishing sprint.
“The team spent the whole day working to catch the break and bring me into position,” Groenewegen said. “Luka [Mezgec] did an amazing lead-out, he’s really motivated. He did a training camp and is in good shape and today he did a textbook lead-out.”
The Dutchman made it a double on Stage 2, keeping the overall lead and showing great form ahead of the upcoming Tour de France.
“It was a hard sprint, a little bit uphill,” said Groenewegen, who raced with his Giant Pursuit helmet. “It’s good preparation before the Tour, and we won again, so thanks again the whole team.”
The race entered the mountains on Stage 4, a challenging and hectic day with several first-category climbs. Peña had to come back from a crash early on, but he was able to recover and launch an attack on the final 10km climb in Kobarid.
Peña’s teammate Zana also crashed, while he was in the lead, but the young Colombian was able to pass Zana and go solo off the front. Zana, a recent stage winner at the Giro d’Italia, came back to finish second and take the lead in the general classification.
“I’m really, really happy for this first victory in Europe,” said Peña, who scored the win riding his TCR Advanced SL Disc and wearing the Giant Rev Pro helmet. “I had good legs, and the team gave me the opportunity. When I saw Filippo had crashed I thought I had to stop for him, but the [team director] told me he was OK, and to try to go for the stage win. It’s an important first win for me and nice Zana was also second.”
For the final stage, a 143km race from Vrhnika to Nove Mesto, the team fought hard to defend Zana’s lead, and the Italian put in a gutsy ride to seal the win. Matej Mohoric of the Bahrain Victorious team made Zana work for it, attacking inside the final 10km and forcing the chase. Zana stayed with the Slovenian, finishing second with the same finishing time.
“It was very hot and the final climb was very hard,” Zana said. “Mohoric attacked, and I tried to follow but it was very difficult. He won the stage and me the GC, it was perfect. Thanks to my teammates, it was a fantastic five days and we worked well every day together.”