Baku, March 12, AZERTAC
Matej Mugerli finished second on the difficult first stage of the Istrian Spring Trophy to move into second place overall. The Synergy Baku Cycling Project rider had finished fifth in the two km time trial prologue on Thursday.
The stage, 158 km from Porec to Labin, featured much climbing along the way, as well as an uphill finish with 10% gradient and cobblestones.
A break group was away for much of the stage, but the peloton never let them far away. With 18 km to go, they were caught again. Mugerli and eventual stage winner Markus Eibegger attacked on the closing climb, with the Austrian finishing only three seconds ahead of the Synergy Baku rider.
“I am satisfied and very happy to have finished second on this difficult stage,” Mugerli said Congratulations to my friend and former teammate Markus!”
The stage started out quietly, according to DS Andrej Hauptman. “Near the finish there were some crashes but thankfully none of our guys were involved. The finale to the line at Labin was good. Our guys did a great job to position Mugerli, but in the end Eibegger was too strong. We may have lost the battle today but not the war.”
Mugerli is only six seconds behind Eibegger, with two more stages to go. Ioannis Tamouridis is tenth overall, at 19 seconds. Mugerli is also second in the points ranking, with Synergy Baku third in the team ranking.