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“I am still young and I don’t not know exactly where could be the best terrain for me, but I hope that will be in classics with pave.”

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Photo: ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - ZENNARO - PERI

LUKA PIBERNIK

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UAE TEAM EMIRATES

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23.11.2015 @ 09:00 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Lampre-Merida have accrued a strong selection of young talents on their team, like Ilya Koshevoy, Tsgabu Grmay, Valerio Conti and Jan Polanc. Another young rider who caught the eye in a great neo-pro season is Slovenian National Road Race Champion Luka Pibernik.

 

At just 18, Pibernik was fifth on the Cauberg at the 2012 U23 Worlds, showing just how good he was. The next season, he helped fellow compatriot Matej Mohoric to take Gold in the same race, as well as winning a stage in the Czech Cycling Tour. 2013 was also the year he won his first national title, taking the elite men’s National Road Race, soloing clear at 19 years of age to beat the likes of Mugerli, Mohoric, Bole, Kump, Roglic, Mezgec and Brajkovic.

 

Lampre-Merida were quick to snap up the 22 year old and he is now a big part of the team’s future after gaining valuable experience in his firs year as a pro. Pibernik spoke to CyclingQuotes about his first professional season, what is to come in 2016 and potentially even further down the line.

 

“I am pleased with the season, I think I made the goals that I set, and that I worked well for team,” Pibernik replied when asked about his 2015 season.

 

Indeed, Pibernik had a good year, taking his second road race title and also showing climbing potential at the Tour de Suisse, where he was fourth in the mountains classification. The Tour of Japan was another breakthrough race, where he was second, third and fifth in stages, showing a fast sprint from a small group, a handy skill for all pros to have. His last result of the season is also interesting, placing 47th at the Wolrds, not bad for a 22 year old racing for a minor nation. In fact, all the riders who finished above him, were at least 24 on the day of the race. Only Adam Yates was 23 or younger on race day and finished within a minute of Pibernik. However, despite the Worlds ride, the highlight was of course getting the national jersey for another season, and this time getting his flag on a WolrdTour jersey, rather than a continental one like in 2013.

 

“It is always nice to have special jersey and I was really surprised that I won again.”

 

Pibernik lives and trains in Italy during the season, along with teammate, compatriot and Giro stage winner Jan Polanc. Ilya Koshevoy, from Belarus, also rides in Italy and did lots of races with Pibernik this year. The Slovenian duo will get two more members for 2016, as Lampre-Merida sign Pibernik’s friend Mohoric from Cannondale-Garmin, and Marko Kump returns to the WorldTour after winning 9 UCI 2.1 or above races in 2015. This will only help Pibernik adjust to top level racing even more.

 

“It is always nice to have some Slovenian boys in the team, it is easier to have conversation in your own language.”

 

We took some time to talk about Mohoric, who is the first rider in history to win the U23 World Road Race the season after taking the same title at Junior level. While Pibernik says he had no role in signing the 21 year old, he still had lots of praise for him.

 

“I think Matej is a really strong rider and each WorldTour team wants a rider like him in their roster.” 

 

While Pibernik doesn’t know anything about his schedule for 2016 outside of defending his national title, as Lampre-Merida only discuss calendars at their first team meeting, which is early in December, he has given some small thought to the type of rider he wants to be.

 

“I am still young and I don’t not know exactly where could be the best terrain for me, but I hope that will be in classics with pave.”

 

This makes sense as he debuted in Flanders and Roubaix this year, and he has already shown an aptitude for the big races and he has stamina, as shown by his Worlds ride this year. Look out for a star in the making.

 

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