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Slovenia's Mezgec wins 2nd stage of Tour of Slovenia

Ljubljana, 16 June - Slovenian cyclist Luka Mezgec won the second stage of the 24th Tour of Slovenia on Friday. After covering the 169.9-km stage, which took the participants around Ljubljana, Mezgec beat the competition in a furious finish in the capital's centre.

Ljubljana
Slovenian cyclist Luka Mezgec at the start of the second stage of the 24th Tour of Slovenia, which he ended up winning.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Ljubljana
Start of the second stage of the Tour of Slovenia in front of Tivoli Arena in Ljubljana
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Ljubljana
Start of the second stage of the Tour of Slovenia in front of Tivoli Arena in Ljubljana
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Ljubljana
Start of the second stage of the Tour of Slovenia in front of Tivoli Arena in Ljubljana
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

Mezgec won the stage in the last 800 metres of the race in the streets of Ljubljana, finishing ahead of Italian Roberto Ferrari (Emirates) and Australian Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data).

A number of cyclists from the leading group crashed a few hundred metres from the finish line as the rain made the streets very slippery.

"Of course I was nervous. I saw many cyclists on the ground, I was looking behind my back, they started to slow down. I took the opportunity and attacked. I told to myself - if I fall too, so be it, I will not be finishing second. Everything or nothing," he said after the race.

"If the stakes hadn't been so high, I would have assessed that the danger of fall was too high. Perhaps I would have given up. I knew that a lot of friends came to see me today, this is why I took a bigger risk," said the 28-year-old member of the Australian professional team Orica-Scott.

"I'm here again after five years. I showed my team where I had trained, where I was born. I was very excited. All of them say that we have really beautiful places. Many of my team members will come here for holidays," he added.

This is the first stage win for a Slovenian at the most prestigious cycling race on Slovenian soil after Primož Roglič won a stage in 2015.

Mezgec was third in the first, 159-km stage between the Koper and Kočevje on Thursday.

He has thus taken the overall lead in the race ahead of Saturday's 167.7-km stage, which will take the competitors from Celje to the Rogla plateau and will feature two more ascents, and will probably decide the overall winner.

The final 160-km stage on Sunday will start in Rogaška Slatina and end, as usual, in Novo mesto.

* Results of the 2nd stage of the Tour of Slovenia:
 1 Luka Mezgec (SLO/Orica Scott)              3:50:51
 2 Roberto Ferrari (ITA/UAE Emirates)
 3 Mark Renshaw (AUS/Dimenshion Data)
 4 Alois Kankovsky (CZE/Elkow)
 5 Jiri Policky (CZE/Elkow)
 6 Andrea Palini (ITA/Androni Sidermec)
 7 Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/Bahrain Merida)
 8 Marco Canola (ITA/Nippo Vini Fantini)
 9 Rok Korošec (SLO/Amplatz)
10 Ryan Gibbons (RSA/Dimension Data)

- overall standings after two out of four stages:
 1 Luka Mezgec (SLO/Orica Scott)                7:40:23
 2 Sam Bennett (IRL/Bora Hansgrohe)              + 0:04
 3 Roberto Ferrari (ITA/UAE Emirates)              0:08
 4 Sonny Colbrelli (ITA/Bahrain Merida)
 5 Žiga Jerman (SLO/Rog)                   all same time
 6 Mark Renshaw (GBR/Dimension Data)               0:10
 7 Tomaš Buchaček (CZE/Elkow)
 8 Nicola Bagiolo (ITA/Nippo Vini Fantini)         0:11
 9 Ivan Santaromita (ITA/Nippo Vini Fantini)       0:13
10 Marco Canola (ITA/Nippo Vini Fantini)           0:14
zm/sm/eho
© STA, 2017