Tour de France fans finally experienced more emotions than the recent Netflix series offered them. Mohorič showed a lot of heart in the interview after an incredible sprint from a three-way breakaway, when he finished a hair ahead of Kasper Asgreen. After this 19th stage, he also reflected on the consequences and the effects of his victory on those around him.
Today, most athletes only see their success through the prism of their own performance and ambition. Be the first, get the next victory, collect accolades and rewards, reap the glory. A self-centered attitude is a big part of today’s stereotypical winner mentality, which is seen by society as the only correct attitude for those who want to succeed.
Matej Mohorič completely turned the situation upside down on Friday. Cycling fans had a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the soul of an experienced cyclist who had already been through a lot, recently mourned the death of a friend, a member of the team, and only occasionally celebrated great victories.
Everything important in this year’s edition
It was an admirable mix of emotions between the joy of winning, empathy and almost regret that when he won, others had to finish second.
“Sometimes it feels like you don’t belong here. Everyone is so incredibly strong that you have a hard time keeping up,” Mohorič said. “Even today, I’ve been thinking all day…the guy walking next to me is suffering like me. It was just cruel to watch the decisive attack as Kasper took off for the win. The day before he had gone on the attack and had won the stage and today he had the will and the determination to start all over again… I looked at him, I knew that I had to do everything perfectly. I did my best, not only for me, but also for Gino (Mäder) and the team,” Matej recalled of his friend’s tragic death.
Gino Mäder, teammate of Mohorič of Bahrain Victorious, died in June after a heavy fall in a downhill race in the Tour de Suisse.
Victory is like betrayal
“At the end of the day, you feel like you betrayed your opponent because you beat them to the finish line,” Mohorič said with tears in his eyes. “That’s how professional sport is. Everyone wants to win and of course if I want to win I have to jump behind Kasper’s bike and then try to beat him in the last 50 meters. Right now I feel so many things at once.
Mohorič is 28 years old, but he has been a professional rider for ten years. He got off to a great start. He won the World Junior Championship in 2012 and added the Under-23 title a year later. But his career since then has been solid rather than spectacular. However, he has already won three stages on the Tour, a stage on the Giro and the Vuelta. And especially in 2022 the classic Milan-Sanremo monument thanks to the diabolical descent of the last hill of Poggio.
“It means a lot because being a professional cyclist is tough and brutal. You suffer a lot in preparation, you sacrifice your life, your family, you do everything to get there. After a few days you realize that everyone is so incredibly strong that sometimes it’s hard to hang on to their rear wheels.
Everyone around is jostling in the night
You see the support people on your team waking up at six in the morning, jogging for an hour, then finishing work at 11 p.m. or midnight. Only then will they close the doors of the mechanical car, because every day we have to change tires, gears, have a physiotherapist, massages and all that.
I know I don’t win very often because I’m not as strong as the others. But again, I can keep my cool and focus in crucial moments. Now, when Kasper attacked, it hurt a lot to stay behind him, but I knew it was a decisive move. Somehow I found the mental toughness to attack her rear wheel and then just tried to push her all the way.
I was selfless, I also tried to contribute to the fact that the peloton does not overtake us. If I hadn’t, they would have caught up with us. And at one point I felt sorry for Ben (O’Connor) because I knew he had no chance in the sprint. But he also tried very hard not to overtake us because he also wanted to fight for the win, even though he knew he would probably lose.
I wish everyone could win
The trio of breakaways pushed hard to the finish line to prevent the peloton from catching up.
“I don’t have a good sprint myself, but you never know after a tough day like this. I’m happy for myself, for the team and for everything that happened last month. I want everyone to be able to win a stage in the Tour.
Last month was absolutely crazy for the Bahrain Merida team. Gino Mäder’s accident happened on June 15, more than five weeks ago. The talented young Swiss died the following day. The riders of the Tour de Suisse team were in shock. They continue with a neutralized sixth stage and give up the next day.
Since then, the formation of Bahrain Victorious, of which the famous former Czech rider Roman Kreuziger is the sporting director, has supported itself. Under the #RideForGino brand, they have won seven, already their third on the Tour. More recently now Mohorič.
I saw these faces in the band
“I just wanted to do my best all day. I always knew I could win a Tour de France stage because I had already won two. So I know I’m strong enough. But I know 150 other guys are like that too. I’m not the only one who can win a Tour de France stage. And every rider deserves to win at this stage. Courchevel) I know what everyone is going through.
Knowing how much winning the Tour de France can change the life of a cyclist, I wish everyone to win a stage of the Tour. But that’s just not possible. And that’s cruel, isn’t it? But right now, I’m super happy and proud.
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