Slovenia currently lead the Nations Cup standings in the U23 Cycling World, with Tadej Pogacar’s GC win at the Peace Race and top 15 ride in Flanders ensuring the team has a lot of points. But the UAE-Team Emirates bound climber is not the only Slovenian scoring the points. His current trade teammate at Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum Ziga Jerman won the season opener at Gent-Wevelgem and was also 5th at the ZLM Tour.
The 20-year-old fastman took some time ahead of the Tour de l’Avenir to speak with U23 Cycling Zone, allowing our readers to get to know this massive talent much, much better.
Unsurprisingly, considering his young age, Ziga admits he doesn’t know exactly what type of rider he will develop into, but he does have a rough idea of exactly what his biggest strengths are.
“I don’t know yet what type of rider am I, but I know I can cope with climbs and sprint very well.”
Ziga has had a great season, securing 2nd in GP della Liberazione and some top tens in the sprints at the Tour of Croatia, where he faced off against some WorldTour sprinters and puncheurs, as well as his results in the rounds of the Nations Cup. But the Gent-Wevelgem win does really stand out, and Ziga went into a little detail about his win.
“For sure it was for me, a really nice victory after some bad luck with illness in the first races before Gent, but then everything went perfectly on the day.”
At the minute, Slovenia has one of the best U23 rosters around, with Ziga and Tadej joined by the likes of Ziga Horvat, Nik Cemazar, Blaz Debevec, Jaka Primozic and Izidor Penko. We asked Ziga a little more about this current crop of riders and what he thinks has allowed them to do so well on the international scene.
“This is a really good generation for Slovenia, with Pogacar, Horvat, Primozic… We are really good friends and you can see this on the road when we race together as one. Also in my trade team, Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum, we have really good trainers for the younger age categories. They are really experts and we have really good conditions to become good cyclists.”
Ziga had an equally good season last year, winning a stage of the Tour de Hongarie, 10th in the U23 European Champs RR, 2nd in a Carpathian Couriers stage and some top fives and podiums in some one-day races in Croatia and Slovenia. This success is not so common between riders under 20, so was Ziga surprised at how quickly he adapted to the U23 level?
“After the last year as a junior, I knew that the Under 23 category would be harder, but I didn’t allow myself to be scared. I wanted to race for results from the first day. I had a lot of crashes and bad luck this year but I stayed calm, because I know everything will come in the end.”
Ziga was speaking with us from an altitude camp, and he outlined where he will race after his camp concludes.
“I was at a high altitude training camp in Livigno for 20 days and for me now, it is time for the most important race of the season, the Tour de L’Avenir. I want to be in the best shape there and show what I can do.”
Given his success on the cobbles and how well he climbs, Ziga does seem tailor made for racing in Belgium. His desired pro win? Belgium’s biggest one day race (sorry Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but you know it’s true).
“I would choose the Ronde van Vlaanderen, because I really love the Classics.”
U23 Cycling Zone wishes to thank Ziga for taking part in the interview and we wish him all the best for the rest of his season. We also wish to thank Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum’s press officer Robert Celestina for helping to set up the interview.