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Triple Italian victory in Kočevje

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Italian Paolo de Negri (Nippo Vini Fantini) is the winner of the 2nd stage on the 22nd edition of the Tour of Slovenia; the stage started in Škofja Loka and finished with a sprint in Kočevje.

Finnish:

Italy also took second and third thanks to Antonio Parrinello (Ita/D'Amoico) and Simone Ponzi (Ita/SouthEast).

Russian Artem Ovechkin defended the yellow jersey.

16:55: Peloton has broken in two pieces. First group has about 50 riders and has about two minutes and 20 seconds advantage over the second.

16:47, 12 km till the finish: Fastest rider on Strma reber pass is caught. Leading group is getting close to Kočevje and next intermediate sprint, the finish will follow shortly. Group of 17 riders has a two minute gap behind the leading group.

16:40: Good news is that the rain has stopped, which means that the weather will not bother competitors in the finish of the stage.

16:35: Italian rider in the lead is holding on to the 50 seconds gap. “Yellow jersey” Ovechkin had a crisis on the climb, but he caught the chasing group on the descent.

16:25: Mauro Finetto (Ita/SouthEast) was the first rider on the top of the first category mountain finish. Now he is already on the crazy descent. He has a gap of 55 second ahead of a group of 30 cyclists.

16:17, 1 km till the top: With one kilometer to go, Colombian Alex Cano Ardila (Colombia) went into chase after at leading rider, he is only 10 seconds behind him.

16:15, 2 km till the top: Italian rider in the lead has now a nice gap, he is chased by a group of about 40 cyclists.

16:10, 3 km till the top: Finetto is only one left in the lead, he has about 20 seconds gap ahead of the chasers.

16:08: Italian Giacomo Berlato (Ita/Nippo) and Mauro Finetto (Ita/SouthEast) jumped away from the leading group.

16:07: As we are getting closer to the top of this hellish climb, more groups are formed and each of them is climbing in its own pace.

16:03: Five kilometers till the top of the Strma reber pass. Peloton is together, but very stretched out. In the lead are mountain specialists, but nobody attacked so far.

16:01: As expected, the escaping riders had been caught in the beginning of this difficult climb.

16:00: Riders are climbing on 996 meter high pass Strma reber, the road has average incline of 8.8% and maximum incline of 17%. Nicola Poletti (Ita/D'Amoico) was behind the time limit and has now left the race.

15:44, 137 km: Climb to Strma reber has begun. Escaping riders are just 35 seconds ahead of the main group, meaning that the best climbers will catch them shortly.

15:44, 130 km: Nothing new on the race. Positions are the same as they were, meanwhile we are all waiting for the climb to Strma reber.

15:30, 125 km: The gap between escapees and the main group stays at one minute and 40 seconds. We are getting closer to Strma reber, the mountain finish at the altitude of 996 meters.

15:20: Group of very loud fans greeted the cyclist in the village of Pirče – they were cheering with flags, bells and vuvuzelas.

15:18, 115 km: Leading riders were getting close to the main group really fast, their gap was just over a minute. But it looks like they had kicked up the pace and the time shows the same – they are now a minute and 40 seconds ahead. They are still fighting!

15:10, 110 km: Looks like the escape is coming to an end. Leading tree riders had lost additional 30 seconds and are now just one minute and 50 seconds ahead.

15:05: It seems that the leading tree riders are low on energy, their advantage went down by 20 seconds in just couple of kilometers. Slovenian, Belgian and Italian are now just over two minutes ahead of main group. Of course they now have this information and we will see if they will continue in more serious pace.

15:00, 103 km: After refreshments and short rest, the main group continued with higher gear and got closer to the leading trio. The gap is now two minutes and 30 seconds. Pace of the peloton is dictated by Artem Ovechkin’s team Rusvelo.

14:50: Cyclist are taking bags from their teams in the feed zone. Three leading riders have a lead of three minutes and 20 seconds

14:35, 86 km: Timing service has new data for us. Escaping riders have extended the lead to three minutes and 20 seconds. They are already in Kočevje. Feed zone is between 91.8 and 98.3 kilometer, between Livod and Štalcerji.

14:25, 80 km: Situation has calm down, escapees have a gap of 2 minutes and 40 seconds. We are close to Kočevje and the feed zone, where is it possible to take food and drinks.

Interesting: Fastest average speed in the stage was 56.60 km/h. That was achieved by Boštjan Mervar on the prologue in Nova Gorica in 1999. Boštjan is now Adria Mobil’s team manager.

14:15: Main group caught up a little bit with the escaping riders. The gap in Ribnica, on the flying finish, was just over two minutes.

14:05, 65 km: Three leading riders, including Slovenian Klemen Štimulak (Adria Mobil), are almost tree minutes ahead of the peloton. Russian team Rusvelo – the team with yellow jersey – took the lead of the main group.

Interesting: Youngest winner of Tour of Slovenia was Italian Diego Ulissi. He was 21 year, 11 months and 5 days old on the day when he claimed the race in 2011.

14:00 Leading trio has reached second mountain finish, Belgian Jarl Salomein was again the fastest. Escaping riders are now almost two and half minutes ahead of the main group.

13:50: Andres Torres Agudelo (Colombia) left the race due to the nasty crash; he is already on the way to hospital in Ljubljana.

13:40, 50 km: Three leading riders are together and are holding on to the two minute gap. Peloton is not asleep, they are stretched out, meaning that the pace is quite high.

13:36, 45 km: Escapees already have a gap of two minutes and ten seconds.

Interesting: Climb time to Kurešček was 16 minutes and 55 seconds for the three fastest riders.

13:35: Race organizers send warning to all team managers saying that the descent is very dangerous due to the wet and slippery road.

13:30: Escapees are already two minutes ahead of the mail peloton.

13:10, 34 km: Leading trio is already a minute and 30 seconds ahead of peloton. We are getting close to the first mountain finish of the 2015 Tour of Slovenia. Battle for the King of Mountains begins on Golo.

13:02: We are close to the 30th kilometer. Looks like we have a first successful breakaway. Simone Sterbini (Ita/Bardiani), Jarl Salomein (Bel/Topsport) and Klemen Štimulak (Slo/Adria Mobil) are already 20 seconds ahead of the main peloton.

12:52: Crash in the front rows of the peloton. We are still waiting for more information. The only thing we know for now is that they called team Meridiana and Colombia for assistance.

12:50: Motorcyclist that is following the breakaway riders hasn’t much work for now. He doesn’t look very happy, maybe due to the bad weather.

12:48, 18 km: Almost 20 kilometers are behind us and we still didn’t saw a successful breakaway, but they are getting more and more frequent. We are getting close to Ig and first flying finish, so we expect more attacks.

12:45: What are Jan Polanc’s expectations ahead od second stage: “My task for second stage is to get to Kočevje with first group. It’s going to be a hard day, and we will have to be especially careful because of the rain and slippery roads. I’m very happy with my performance on the time trail, and my gap to the winner was inside expectations.”

12:41: All 128 cyclist that were racing on the time trial in the capital city on Thursday, are back in Ljubljana. Group is now turning in direction towards Kočevje, there are still 170 kilometers left in the stage.

12:40, 10 km: We are approaching Ljubljana. Still no success with the breakaways. Main peloton is very stretched out, there are jumps here in there, but everybody was caught quickly.

12:30, 5 km: None of the breakaways succeeded in the first kilometers. Peloton is still in one piece, but stretched out.

12:27: Cyclist passed the first kilometer, which means that the race started for real. First riders are already trying with breakaways.

12:22: Organizers issued a warring on the race radio. There is a house with low terrace just next to the road on the 61st kilometer, low enough that the car with bikes on the roof can hit it. Looks like they will have to do a small detour.

12:20: A great number of fans welcomed the riders on the start in Škofja Loka. But the weather is not so nice – the air temperature is only 16 degrees Celsius.

12:15 Second stage of the 22nd Tour of Slovenia has begun. Cyclist started the stage in the closed ride on the streets of Škofja Loka; after one kilometer of relaxed riding the race became very serious.

After Thursday's afternoon time trial it is time for second stage. The race will start at 12.15 in Škofja Loka, so there really wasn't any rest for the competitors. Today's stage will go through the capital city and ahead towards Kočevje. Russian Artem Ovechkin will start the stage in yellow jersey, but he will have to show a really good performance to defend it. Second stage isn't so difficult at the first glance, but it does have some sections where we could see attacks. After today's stage we will know who is feeling strong and has most dynamite in his legs.

Stage description: Cyclist will go through Ljubljana, then they will face second category mountain finish. Climb to Golo (767 m) has maximum incline of 12 degrees, and it will be interesting to see how will the riders attack in this part of the stage. Gaps between the best climbers that are aiming for the overall victory are quite small, so everybody will have to be on the lookout for the whole time.

Crucial part follows just after 130th kilometer, on the very demanding climb to Strma reber pass (996 m). Some riders already know the pass for the previous editions of the race, but all of them know that the incline is even at 17-percentage on some points. Only 15 riders crossed this pass in the leading group on the 2014 edition of the race, then about 25 more joined till the finish in Kočevje.

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