Ten years ago, Primus Roglic came a long way. When at Oberstdorf he jumped 183 metres, Roglic was still a skier at that time, and he was one of the best in the country. He fell hard that year, and Roglic made his best decision. Stop jumping on the ice.
A decade later, the 31-year-old Slovenian is not only one of the best players in the country but one of the best in the world. He has twice won the Grand Prix of Spain as a professional cyclist, came back from the Olympic Games in Tokyo with a gold medal, and no one was able to put him in danger at the time of the trial. When the Vuelta begins on Saturday as the third and final round of the year, there will be many favorites to win. But there is only one favourite.
Primus Roglic with the Tokyo Gold Medal
Photo: Tim de Waele / Getty Images
Roglic wants the treble, and if all goes well, he’ll get it. Even if INEOS’s Richard Carapaz is someone on the field who wants to make it as difficult as possible for him. Like Roglic, Carapaz is a newly crowned Olympic champion who was a wrestler in a Tokyo street race, and impressive how he dominated the race.
But the Vuelta isn’t a one-day race, and no one is up to the various missions of the Tour like Roglic, who can master the mountain stages as well as time trial. Roglic is the complete cyclist, made for the big bows and built to win the Tour de France.
The Tour de France, the greatest race to be won in cycling, is a festering wound in Roglic’s career. Last year he was performing as the Governor of the Tour, the stages turned into a show of strength by Team Jumobo Visma, and Roglic already had the all-out victory in his pocket. Then came the time trial on the penultimate day, Roglic faced disaster. In the last few metres, so to speak, he was overtaken by Tadej Pujakar;
Pogacar is the star of the scene
Since then, Pogacar has been the star of the scene, at the 2021 Tour de France he did what he wanted in the field. While Roglic had to let go of exhaustion and anger after a serious fall.
Since then, Roglic has meticulously prepared for the Volta, it’s his terrain. Because Pogacar had originally also scored in the Tour of Spain, Roglic trained more insistently than usual. The Vuelta was supposed to be a place for revenge, but now nothing comes of it: Pogacar canceled his participation in no time. A week ago, he announced via video message that he wanted to take a break after the Olympics.
Thus, the big Slovenian confrontation was postponed until next year. Pogacar has only participated in the Vuelta once, that was in 2019, when he won three stages. But the overall victory went to Roglic. The hierarchy was still intact at the time.
Roglic and Pojjacar at the 2020 Tour de France
Photo: Christophe Ena / AP
Vuelta’s manager Javier Guillen had already raised his mind about the “Great Duel” in advance, so it’s been canceled for the time being. It could still be a duel between Roglic and Carapaz, as Egan Bernal, 2019 Tour winner and this year’s Giro winner, was registered for the Vuelta for the first time. So Gillin has turned around on marketing and now calls the duel between 31-year-old Roglic and seven-year-old Bernal the “battle of the generations”.
“We live in the era of records”
So there is enough competition even without Pogacar that you want to challenge the Slovenian victory three times. He won the Tour de Spain three times in a row, which Tony Rominger of Switzerland and Roberto Heras of Spain have, and no one else has yet. For this, too, Guillen has the appropriate motto ready: “We live in the age of records.”
The drivers have three weeks and 3,417 kilometers before the final stage on September 5, when the biggest difficulties await, especially in the past few days. “It’s going to be the toughest third week a Vuelta has ever seen,” said race director Guillen, the following preference. Several mountain stages have been identified in the last week.
The profile that Roglic absorbs: On the last day there was another mountain time experience for the destination Santiago de Compostela, and this year also a place of pilgrimage for cycling enthusiasts. It is possible that the overall victory will be determined only there. “We want to incorporate as much drama into the race as possible,” Guillen says. German Maximilian Schachmann, who celebrates the premiere of the Velta, describes it this way: “It’s hot and getting tough. But I prefer it to boring races.” The race director’s heart should open at such a sentence.
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