The sixth edition of the international cycling contest CRO Race starts today with professional teams from Europe, Asia, America and Australia taking part.
The race, which starts in Osijek on 28 September and ends in Zagreb on 3 October – is great promotion for Croatia with it broadcast live in 130 countries.
The race, which consists of six stages spanning over 1,000 kilometres and 13 counties, will be broadcast on Croatian Radio Television (HRT), Eurosport, and thanks to cooperation with the A.S.O. company, the event will be broadcast on six continents – Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Eurosport will broadcast 12 hours of live programming from the race in total.
“A total of 20 teams will be at the start, four of them with a World Tour license, seven Pro Continental teams and nine Continental teams. Team Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec also includes Croatian cyclist Josip Rumac, who won a bronze medal at the World Junior Championship in 2012, while there will be five more Croatian riders in the Continental teams. I hope that this race will promote cycling in general, both on a competitive and recreational level, because we see what kind of publicity our Slovenian neighbours enjoy thanks to the success of their cyclists”, said the director of the race, Vladimir Miholjević.
As did two years ago, the CRO Race is held in the autumn, i. e. after the World Championship and before the last calendar race of the World Tour Il Lombardy, which also inspired the route of the race. “Given the autumn term, we have also changed the concept of the race. This is no longer a preparation for the Giro, so there are no epic climbs like Učka or Biokovo. This year’s stages will be nervous, technically demanding, but the riders must also be explosive”, added Miholjević.
The technical director of the race, Luka Mišović, in the presentation of all stages, said that he expects that the fight for the GC will be uncertain until the last stage on Sunday in Zagreb.
One of the main candidates for the win in general classification at the CRO Race is 29-year-old Simon Yates, a member of the Australian Team BikeExchange and the twin brother of Adam Yates, the winner of the last edition of the race. Yates was successful during the first part of this year – in addition to the third place on the Giro, he was also the winner of the one-week Tour of the Alps in April, but then he was injured and abandoned the Tour de France. “The parcour shows that this will be a demanding race, and we came here with a team that can be aggressive and take control of the race. I will see very soon how I feel, what my condition is and whether I can fight for the GC”, said Yates.
Asked if he had talked to his brother Adam about the race, Simon Yates replied: “Just last week I trained with Adam in Andorra where we both live and he told me it was a much harder race than the parcour itself shows. The reason is that it is the end of the season, so different riders are in different shape. From what I’ve seen, the third, fourth and fifth stages suit me best in terms of my profile. As for the biggest competitors for the GC, it is difficult for me to assess the condition of the riders in the other teams, but I will certainly pay the most attention to the remaining three World Tour teams.” He added that he is in Croatia for the first time and looking forward to seeing the natural beauties of our country, especially emphasizing the two stages that follow the coastline and announcing that he could soon come to Croatia on vacation.
The strongest Croat at the race is expected to be 26-year-old Josip Rumac from the Italian team Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec. He has competed in four of the five editions of CRO Race so far, missing only the 2017 edition. “This year’s parcour is more attractive than the previous ones, so far we have always had one KOM stage finish and we knew it would be decisive. Now it is different. As for my team, we took the cyclists to whom route suits the most, and as far as the results are concerned, we will go stage by stage. Certainly, my advantage will be that I know the roads – the finish in Varaždin is the same as in 2016, there were also finishes in Makarska and Crikvenica, and Učka and Opatija are my home ground, while the circle around Zagreb is also already known”, said Rumac.
Considering the race configuration, it is expected that the bunch sprint could decide the winner in several stages, and in such circumstances the names for the best sprinter classification are expected to be German Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), Israeli Itamar Einhorn (Israel Start-Up Nation), Australian Kaden Groves (Team BixeExchange), Spaniard Izaga Jon Aberasturi (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) and Norwegian Markus Hoelgaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team).