Monday, November 05, 2012

Kocjan - It's the biggest opportunity of my life

Despite having posted impressive results for several years in Europe, it's taken a few years for Slovenian Jure Kocjan to get his chance at the very top level of international cycling. Now that Euskaltel have offered him that opportunity in 2013, no wonder he's aiming to grab it with both hands. Speaking to BiciCiclismo, the recently-turned 28-year-old says he's finally ready to make a leap of quality.

"This is the greatest opportunity in my life", he said. "I've had other options - at the end of the 2011 season, for example, I had the opportunity to join WorldTour teams. But I felt very good at Team Type 1 and wanted to stay a year longer with them. But with a view to next season, it was time to take a step forward and be part of Euskaltel. I think it's a team in which I can develop my talent, especially in the races that I like: the Classics and races that end in a sprint.

"My main objective is to improve, to progress. 2011 was a really good year. I was alongside the best in the world, but I wasn't able to finish it off in the sprints. 2012 started off really badly for me because of falls and injuries. But when I got my fitness back on track, I managed to be in a position of disputing races. And physically I felt better than ever. The objective for 2013 can't be anything else than continuing to grow".

Winner of the 2010 edition of the GP Pino Cerami, fourth in last year's Strade Bianche and fifth in that same year's TD Bank Philadelphia are results of a classics rider. Yet the large majority of his wins have come in bunch-sprint finishes. So what type of rider is he?

"I'm best in the classics", he argued. "I don't have any problems getting over the smaller climbs. Obviously I won't be among the best on long ones, but on smaller ones I have no trouble holding on. But I'm a sprinter as well. Perhaps I lack the speed to win in a completely flat finish, but if it's a slightly uphill sprint I can fight for the victory. That's my favourite terrain".

Asked about his new team, Kocjan was quick to label it as "one of the best teams in the world", and added that "few teams have as much tradition and history" as the guys in orange. Asked if he knew of Euskaltel's philosophy, a quick "of course" followed.

"Euskaltel is a team that always has been based on Basque cyclists or riders trained in Euskadi. In 2013 we'll start a new stage in the history of Euskaltel. And those of us who are coming from the outside are obliged to perform at the highest level and help the team in races like the classics - races where Euskaltel haven't had the same high-calibre riders as they've had for the big stage races".

His race calendar wasn't discussed, but it's widely known that he'll focus on one-day races and shorter stage-races outside of Spain, and in Northern Europe in particular.



Stephen said...

Nice to see the new guys being so positive about the team and understanding the seismic change they are part of, lets hope they get the results their enthusiasm deserves.

Colin n .Ireland said...

Good luck to ALL our riders for the coming season

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