Matej Mohorič has told The road.cc Podcast in association with MET that he could have descended on the Poggio even faster than he did during his stunning Milan-San Remo win on Saturday had a TV motorbike not been ahead of him, responding to critics on social media who suggested that he may have benefited from drafting during his descent.
The Bahrain Victorious rider also spoke to road.cc’s Jack Sexty and Ryan Mallon about how he had to battle back to fitness for the race after crashing two weeks earlier at Strade Bianche, how he knew by the start of the climb of the Poggio that his race plan was coming together to give him a chance for victory in the Monument that might never come his way again – and yes, also talked about THAT dropper post he used during the race.
Pointing out that motorbike riders don’t run on rails, he said: “You can’t expect him to take the corners, and you have to understand that he has a cameraman seated behind him, it’s heavy and it’s not a racing motorbike. I don’t know how they manage to go that fast, because they still do corners quite fast, not as fast as us, they accelerate after the corner.
“You benefit from the draft after the corner, but you also lose the speed before the corner if he can’t take it as fast as you, but it’s always there. Everybody wishes to attack, to maybe have the advantage if there is an advantage, but I’m not sure in San Remo if it’s an advantage or a disadvantage. You can definitely benefit after the corner, but you also have to adjust your speed before.”
He highlighted that you also had to factor in the possibility of motorbikes crashing, a situation in which he has found himself before, and underlined that in providing the TV pictures for viewers at home, motorbikes played an essential role in supporting the business side of the sport.
Mohorič spent “three or four days” off the bike after his crash at Strade Bianche. “I was planning on doing Tirreno to get myself ready, not like race full gas every day, but just to take the race rhythm in and finesse the condition just before San Remo, but in Strade I crashed really bad, I hurt my knee really bad,” he said. I did heaps of physio … you can hurry the process a little bit, but you still need time to heal up.
“The first normal training ride was just two days before San Remo and then I knew I had a shot because I knew I’d done everything I could to get there and I knew my condition can’t be a lot worse than it was beforehand.
“I knew it was far from perfect but I also knew that if I saved all my bullets just for the Poggio, just for the top and the last metres of the Poggio, then I was probably close to being at my best, which means I could hold on and not be too far off the best guys.
“And then the race just played into my hands,” he said. “When UAE smashed it on the Cipressa, I was actually in the perfect position. Jonathan Milan did a huge, huge pull beforehand and put me and Damiano Caruso in the best spot.
“I was in position 10 in the peloton, sitting on the wheels, saving energy and accelerating over the top of the Cipressa to do the descent in a good position, I basically saved a lot of energy going into the Poggio,” saying that team mate Jan Tratnik “put us in the perfect position” ahead of that final climb, where Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates launched the first of several attacks.
“That was the moment I started to say, this is very good for me, I need to do my best, I could honestly have a shot here at cresting with 5 seconds of the first guy. Because if you attack so early, it means it’s not possible to go full gas all the way to the top and people that follow will build up lactate early on.
“If you pace yourself a bit more, if you lose some places at the start of the climb, you’ll probably be able to limit your losses towards the top. “I did just that, and I was fifth at the top, which is a great effort in itself, I’m not the strongest guy in the world when it comes to that kind of effort, it was a dream come true.
“When I crested in fifth position within two seconds of the leading group, I said to myself, ‘Okay, with all you did over the winter to prepare yourself, this is the year, you do it now or probably you will never have this chance again’.
“I stayed focused, I didn’t get nervous or whatever, I basically closed the gap within the first corner, I was attached to the first group, and then I just passed everyone and made sure that I mase a scene so that they would actually get a little bit scared to follow me and putting their lives at risk.”
Mohorič himself almost came to grief a couple of times during his daredevil descent, and he said: “With the way that I was attacking the corners I think I would probably choose not to follow myself on that descent!”
Asked by Jack how many cats’ lives he had lost on the way down, he responded: “I think all of them! I don’t think I have any left so I’m never going to do that again.” He believes that without Saturday’s dropper post and bike set-up, he would have crashed, saying:
“Even when I jumped out of the ditch, the lowered saddle … it’s easier, the saddle is not in your way, it’s like on a mountain bike.”
Ryan pointed out to Mohorič that during last year’s Tour de France, he had told now-retired Dan Martin that his days of crazy descending were over. “It’s a Monument, you know?” Mohorič replied. “When you’re in that position, your mind doesn’t work as it does when your head is cool.
“Of course I took risks, but I almost have a problem. It seems to me always that I am in control of things when I descend like that. And then In the last corner when I lost the grip in both the front and rear wheel, I was just like, ‘Okay, this was over the limit’, I was probably at the limit for the whole thing, so I just then realised I was at the limit and I was not well within my boundaries.
“But you also have the feeling of the bike. When you feel the slip you can change the weight distribution, and take control back. But sometimes you need to go fast, if you slip you still have a margin of error to fix that.
“I didn’t expect to lose control in that last left-hander, but it happened and I’m just happy I stayed upright,” he added.
“I felt like I could probably push more, but of course there are motorbikes in front, you have to take them into account, and also you don’t want to put your life at risk.”
Episode 21 of The road.cc Podcast also features Ulysse Daessle of our sponsors MET talking about how the Italian firm creates and optimises its products, from 3D-printing through to meticulous real-world testing.
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Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.