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LAGO SERRÙ, Italy (VN) — The Giro d’Italia reached its first summit finish Friday and tempers flared. Two-time race winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) blasted favorite Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) for not riding like a leader.
The pair had finished together on the 13th stage of the Giro after a day of heavy attacks. Nibali suggested that Roglic had been uncooperative in the chase, leading to a standoff.
“Today I said: ‘Listen Roglic, if you want to come and do a photo at my house, I’ll show you my bag of trophies whenever you want,'” recalled Nibali.
“I don’t need to prove anything. But he understood that I wasn’t going to do anything, that I was a bit fed up of the attitude that he had. After that he started to work.”
The Slovenian would not respond to Nibali’s comments, choosing instead to ride off with a blank stare for waiting media.
Roglic came into the Giro after winning all three stage races he’d started this year – the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie. Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) leads the race thanks to a long escape, but Roglic remains effective leader in second overall.
“I think if he wants to win this Giro, that’s not the way he should ride,” said Nibali.
Nibali suggested that maybe Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma team is still upset with him, possibly from the 2016 Giro that he won. Then, under pressure from Nibali, Steven Kruijswijk crashed into a snow bank with two days to go and lost the pink jersey.
“Jumbo-Visma have some problem with me because of what’s happened in the past and so on,” Nibali explained. “They have quite a bit of fear of me. That’s normal, that’s alright. The psychological and tactical aspect is important right now, but the race was very stretched. It wasn’t easy.”
At times, Roglic appears as cold as the snow he used to ski jump over. Today, despite a strong ride, he declined to talk to the press.
“We showed a lot of motivation to take the responsibility,” his sports director Addy Engels said. “It’s up to the other guys to attack him, and they did. I think with the differences in the GC we have, Primoz did a good job.”
Roglic came under attack from Mikel Landa (Movistar), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). But on the last kilometers of the stage, he appeared only concerned to stay with Nibali – his strongest rival on paper, who trails him in the GC by 1:44. Engels brushed off such a suggestion.
“It’s not about not wanting to ride, it’s about spending the energy the best way possible,” said Engels. “I don’t see it like that [as Nibali versus Primoz]. We still have hard days to come.”
“For sure, it’s a lot of guys still in the game. And we are looking to them.”