Haig seals third overall as Mezgec sprints to seventh on the final stage in Slovenia

Sun 18 Jun 2017

A short and punchy final stage wrapped up this year’s Tour of Slovenia and a successful four days of racing for ORICA-SCOTT as Jack Haig sealed third on the general classification and Luka Mezgec another top ten finish.

A fast finale played out over three finishing circuits in Novo Mesto with ORICA-SCOTT dominating the closing kilometres before Dimension-Data and Bora-Hansgrohe came to the fore.

The bunch split in the last kilometre with Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) taking the stage victory and Mezgec close, but caught the wrong side and crossing the line in seventh.

The Australian outfit enjoyed continued success here over the last couple of years and this year’s race was no different. Frustration at third place on stage one, Mezgec soon remedied the situation by taking the win on sage two and moved straight into the race leaders green jersey.

An epic battle between overall contenders Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe),Jack Haig and Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) took place up the long climb to Rogla on yesterday’s stage three with Majka eventually taking the stage win and Haig a respectable third.

Majka went on to win the overall and Haig finshed safely in the peloton to confirm third place and end the race on a high and on the podium.

“We can go away happy with what we have achieved here over the last four days,” said sport director Matt Wilson. “We ticked off all our goals and then some, stage win and leaders jersey on stage three for Luka and a podium finish for Jack. I’m satisfied and we can take lots of positives out of the race.”

“There’s some slight disappointment that we didn’t win the stage today, the boys dominated the closing circuits and we just hesitated at a key moment on the downhill into the final corner and unfortunately for Luka there was no coming back from that.

“Jack did fantastically well on stage three and it was important for us to keep him in a good position today to safeguard his third place and the team did a great job of looking after him. It has been a great race to take part in, as usual and I am happy that we could return to Slovenia and come away with another positive result.”

How it happened:

The fourth and final stage of the 2017 Tour of Slovenia got underway in Raogaska Slatina with 160kilometres in the cards and the inevitability of another sprint finish.

The early breakaway went clear over the first 25kilometres with six riders quickly gaining a three-minute advantage over the peloton.

100kilometres later and the leaders were within two minutes of the peloton on the approach to the finishing circuits of Novo Mesto. ORICA-SCOTT and Bora-Hansgrohe were controlling the chase with Chris Juul-jensen exchanging pulls at the front and Svein Tuft also in close attendance.

As the race entered the first of the closing three circuits, ORICA-SCOTT were lined out at the front of the bunch and all of a sudden it was all over for the breakaway. The fight for positioning for the sprint finale now began for real.

Tuft lined out the peloton through the final kilometres with an intense pace followed by Mitch Docker into the last 1,500metres.

Next up were Dimension-Data and the front of the race split under the flamme rouge, Bennett went clear to take the stage win with Mezgec in seventh and caught just the wrong side of the sprint.

Tour of Slovenia stage four results:

1. Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) 03:41:48

2. Mark Cavendish (Dimension-Data) ST

3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) ST

7. Luka Mezgec (ORICA-SCOTT) ST

Final general classification:

1. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) 15:56:23

2. Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida) +0:07

3. Jack Haig (ORICA-SCOTT) +0:17

Photos courtesy of Tour of Slovenia