Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jure Kocjan interview

Few would argue Jure Kocjan is a skilled bike rider - his results the last few years speak for themselves. The big question mark, though, is how a sprinter and one-day rider - not to mention a Slovenian - will fit in at an Euskaltel still, true to form, dominated by climbers and stage-racers.

Speaking to Basque Cycling News, the 28-year-old doesn't appear to have any such qualms. In the ensuing interview, the former Team Type 1 rider talks Euskaltel, his background in mountain biking and his late entry to road racing - and rates Andrej Hauptman as his biggest hero.

Question: First of all, congratulations on making it into a WorldTour team! How does that make you feel?

Answer: After three years of riding at the Pro Continental level, I've finally made it - and of course I was really happy when I signed the contract. I think next season will be the most important one of my career.

Q: Is it daunting joining a team previously only made up of Basques, or will it be just like joining any other team?

A: I heard a lot of good things about Euskaltel and their numerous fans, so I'm proud I'll wear the traditional orange jersey. It'll be a big challenge.

Q: Are you nervous about the higher quality of races and the higher quality of competition?

A: Yes, a little bit, but that just makes me more motivated to prove myself.

Having only started road racing at the end of his teens, Kocjan has come a long way.

Q: You've said in the past that you've also had some interesting offers from French teams. What made you choose Euskaltel? What were the pros and cons?

A: I received offers from both WorldTour teams and Pro Conti teams. But I opted for Euskaltel because it's a big team with a big history. I think the Basque Country and Slovenia might be a bit similar, so I can't wait to visit!

Q: For those who follow cycling, your name is not a new one - you've had impressive results for years. Are you surprised it's taken you so (comparatively) long to join a top-level team?

A: The main problem is that I started my career very late. The next problem is that I'm Slovenian. When you're young and want to turn pro you need very good results. When I was 22, nobody knew about me. But year by year I improved, and 2011 was a good year. Ahead of the 2012 season I received my first offer from a WorldTour team, but I decided to stay for another year with Team Type 1.

Q: Did you sign for one or two years?

A: I signed a one-year deal.

Q: How has the national media reacted to you signing for such a big team?

A: There was, and still is, a lot of publicity. All the sports media reported on me signing with this special Basque team.

Q: As a sprinter and classics rider, what do you think it will be like to ride with a team like Euskaltel, seeing as they've been weak in those areas for years?

A: I think they'll be more competitive in those areas with the new riders.

Kocjan spent two years at Carmiooro-NGC before teaming up with Team Type 1 ahead of 2011.

Q: It's probably too early to talk race schedules, but do you know if a Grand Tour might be on your calendar?

A: It's too early to say.

Q: Tell us about your childhood. Did you do any other sports, or was it always cycling? Do you have any family doing sports? 

A: My mother was a good cross country skier, and I used to do alpine skiing in the winter. I also did running and football when I was young. I started riding mountain bikes when I was 15, and started on the road when I was 19.

Q: Your place of birth, Jesenice, is pretty well known for its ice hockey, right? Is that sport something you're into?

A: I was born in Ljubljana - I've played ice hockey twice in my life!

Q: Oops, that's embarrassing. Anyway, do you remember your first bike race?

A: Yes, it was a mountain bike national cup race in 1999. I won.

Q: Who was your cycling hero while you were growing up?

A: When I started road racing, my hero was Andrej Hauptman, who was third in the 2001 Lisbon World Championships road race. Now he's a good friend of mine.

Q: And who do you consider your best friend in cycling now?

A: There's more than one: Mahoric, Ilesic and Vrecer from Slovenia. Then there's Colli and Bazzana from Italy, and Ventoso from Spain.

Q: Off the bike, what is your main interests?

A: I spend my spare time with my wife and our two-year-old daughter.

Q: And, finally, the obligatory question: what do you make of the Lance case? About time he got caught, or is he still the rightful winner of those seven Tours?

A: This case should have been solved years ago. I think if they prove he's guilty, he's not the rightful winner of those Tours.

Photo: &


azanca02 said...

Very well done Magnus! Looking forward to seeing him in Orange next year.

Nick said...

Thanks Magnus! That was an excellent read


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