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Primoz Roglic rode to a surprise second place in...

Former ski jumper Roglic surprises Giro

Slovenian up-and-comer Primoz Roglic surprised everyone, including himself, by nearly winning the Giro's first stage

APELDOORN, Netherlands (VN) — Primoz Roglic is a first year WorldTour professional, racing his first grand tour, and is due to shine in the Giro d’Italia’s mountains — which made his ride in the opening time trial impressive. LottoNL – Jumbo’s rider says that he was as surprised as everyone else to nearly win and take the pink jersey, seeing only Tom Dumoulin (Giant – Alpecin) top his time by one 100th of a second.

Roglic, 26, only began cycling in 2012 after a heavy fall ended his ski jumping career. As a junior, he helped the Slovenian national team to a world championship gold medal in 2007.

Two wheels began to take him further. He won the Tour de Slovénie and the Tour d’Azerbaijan last year for Slovenia’s Adria Mobil team before LottoNL – Jumbo came calling this winter. No one, though, had expected such a ride over the Giro’s 9.8-kilometer opening time trial through Apeldoorn.

“Like everyone, I’m also surprised,” Roglic told VeloNews after returning to the LottoNL-Jumbo team bus.

“I didn’t expect that it. I just wanted to make it through the ride safely, not crash, not do anything stupid, and go all-out. Of course, I thought about what I could’ve done differently, but if I could’ve, I would’ve definitely done it. I was going all-out.”

The team bus was the center of attention yesterday for fans as LottoNL-Jumbo is the only Dutch team racing the 2016 Giro d’Italia. Many expected a top performance out of its rider Jos Van Emden. Last year in the Tour de France’s opening time trial, he placed fifth. Van Emden, however, crashed in a corner and could not recover in time.

Roglic, who was brought to the Giro to support Steven Kruijswijk in the mountains, delivered the team’s top ride, instead. He covered the course in 11:03 minutes, the same minute and second as Dumoulin later did, but only a fraction slower.

“It was a big down that Jos crashed, but a big up that Primoz delivered such great time trial,” sports director Addy Engels said. “It was the best performance for him so far. We are proud and satisfied, but to be second so close today almost makes me cry, as well.

“It’s a big surprise, we came here today saying Jos was our best guy to make a result. Primoz came here as a support guy for Steven in the mountains, that’s still the same, but we now know he’s in top shape with the way he delivered.”

LottoNL – Jumbo tested him over the winter and was impressed with his big engine. Though he lacked the cycling history, he knew what it meant to be an elite athlete and compete at a high level. Now, everyone is waiting to see how far the former ski jumper can go.

“I’m still searching to see what’s possible. I want to get as much out of myself as I can,” Roglic added.

“Are there improvements still to be made? For sure, not with such big steps, but little ones. I hope so. I’m really new in this and learning all the time.”

Engels already worked with one surprise rider before. Last year, he was sports director for Giant-Alpecin when Dumoulin nearly won the Vuelta a España.

“Steven is still the leader, but the same questions were asked last year at the start of the Vuelta when I was working with Tom Dumoulin,” Engels said. “There’s no plan with Primoz, but we also don’t know what the race will bring over the next three weeks.”