Tour of Croatia 2016 – we have a winner!
The six-day, 1000km long epic journey came to an end in Zagreb on April 24, 2016. Matija Kvasina (Synergy Baku Cycling Project), a Zagreb native took the red jersey and overall victory.
With tears in his eyes, a 34 year-old Kvasina proudly put on the red checkered jersey and kissed the trophy as the winner of the 1000km-long 2nd edition Tour of Croatia.
Stage 6 of the Tour of Croatia started in the most North place of Croatia – Sv. Martin na Muri and took us on a 177km trip across Međimurje and Varaždin county into the great finale in Zagreb. Coming into Stage 6 Matija Kvasina had a 30 second lead which he kept up until the very end. Thirty seconds were enough to be crowned the second winner of Tour of Croatia.
The shots of Međimurje and Varaždin counties went around the world with the most beautiful being the aerial beauty shots. The riders rode through all three Međimurje towns. Mursko Središće was the first with riders getting glimpses of Mura river on the left with the Slovenian border being meters away from them. The second stop and first intermediate point stage was in Čakovec. Coming fast, riders took a spin on Čakovec’s four roundabouts.
Mirco Maestri (Bardini – CSF pro team) took the sprint points in Čakovec with Croatian Bruno Maltar riding for Radenska Ljubljana in second.
From Čakovec the riders went into Prelog the third of Međimurje towns, a town known for a big cycling presence. All over Međimurje, thousands of people cheered the riders and waved them as they passed by. Prelog was the last spot in Međimurje as the riders went over the Drava river and into Varaždin county.
Drava river and its beautiful lakes were breathtaking, but the riders fought hard as Jalžabet was the next climb checkpoint. Boem Nicola took the Jalžabet BC and Robbert De Greef took the next one in Sv. Ivan Zelina.
The last part of the race was the entry into Zagreb and riders did that at a speedy pace. With the speed over 65km/h peloton went on the highway and cycled into Zagreb, Croatia’s capital.
With two laps to go, the peloton caught the breakaway group and the sprinters started jumping. Cavendish pulled for his teammate, Nizzolo followed and Sondre Holst Enger (IAM) took the win after two spins around the downtown Zagreb. Riders passed by upper Zagreb, next to the Cathedral and finished strong at St. Marko square. Holst Enger from IAM cycling took the win in front of Edward Theuns (Trek – Segafredo) and Timothy Dupont (Veranda’s Willems Cycling Team).
Red / White checkered Jersey 133 CRO KVASINA Matija (BCP) Time 23h29′29″
Blue Jersey 054 ITA NIZZOLO Giacomo (TFS) Points 70
Green Jersey 058 AUT ZOIDL Riccardo (TFS) Points 20
White Jersey 123 SLO NOVAK Domen (ADR) Time 23h31′16″
Best Team BCP AZE Synergy Baku Cycling Project Time 68h55′59″
Tour of Croatia set an example. The power of picture and video can’t be disputed in the field of tourism. A thousand kilometers of racing took riders across the Croatia through Osijek, Varaždin, Split, Makarska, Šibenik, Plitvice lakes, Učka, Poreč and Umag and into Međimurje to Zagreb stage on the last day.
Over 12 hours of TV production that went around the world, with hundreds of thousands watching on Eurosport and other TV channels was the biggest and cheapest summer commercial for Croatia. Cycling is on the rise in Europe, and with Croatia going slowly into ab entrepreneur friendly zone, it can be a boost for Croatian tourism. Two of the six stages were inland, one took riders into Slavonija and the other took them from Međimurje into Zagreb. Two stages promoted regions that are unexplored by cycling adventurers, and compared to the Adriatic are cheaper and the hosts are very welcoming.
Tour of Croatia presented all these with intense communication, thousands of photos, fan photos and videos were shared over their social networks and they proved that the events like these are needed in Croatia.
The positive energy flowed from the towns of Valpovo and Šibenik that celebrated their riders Jabuka and Maltar, to home towns and climbs like Učka that gave birth to dozens of Croatia’s best cyclists.
Vladimir Miholjević and his crew made a project that will be the benchmark of quality for years to come. I can for sure say that we will follow it carefully with hope of even more quality coming into the 3rd edition of Tour of Croatia.