STA, 15 June 2022 - Polish rider Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) won the first stage of the Tour of Slovenia race on Wednesday. Slovenia's Domen Novak (Bahrain Victorious) finished in second place and Slovenia's cycling star and current No. 1 cyclist in the world, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), was third.
Majka led the way with the two Slovenians in the second half of the 164.7 km hilly stage from Nova Gorica to Postojna in the west of the country.
After chasing breakaway riders during the flat terrain segment of the stage, it was Pogačar, the favourite of the race, who took his chance on the first climb.
Being rested after two months without competitive racing, he made a successful attack, and Majka and Novak followed suit.
In the final sprint, Majka broke away from the two Slovenian riders and crossed the finish line first. This was his first stage win after last year's Vuelta a Espana.
"The stage was difficult because it was very hot. It was a nice test before the Tour de France, we have to get used to this heat... Tadej had good legs. It's nice to ride here, we had a good rhythm, and I'm also happy that Tadej allowed me to win because he's definitely faster than me. Tadej will definitely win some stages in the next few days and definitely the overall as well," Majka, who won the 2017 Tour of Slovenia, told public broadcaster RTV Slovenija.
On Thursday, cyclists will ride the 174.2 km stage from Ptuj (NE) to Rogaška Slatina (E). This will be the only of the race's five stages that presents an actual chance for sprinters to bag a win.
The Tour of Slovenia is the country's biggest road cycling race. In recent years, many riders have started to see it as a final competitive test before the Tour de France. The latter, starting in Denmark on 1 July, will see Pogačar defend his two-time title.