SAN MARTINO DI CASTROZZA, Italy (VN) — Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has been hiding ailments over the past week but is showing signs of life just in time for a final battle for the pink jersey.
The Slovenian roared out of the gates early in the 2019 Giro d’Italia, winning both time trials to stake his claim for the overall title.
A few miscues and mishaps cost him some ground during the second week. Officials said that he’s recovered from a bad stomach as well as more injuries from his crash toward the end of stage 15 into Como than they first revealed.
In the frenetic finale of the Como stage, Roglic was forced to finish the stage on a teammates’ bike. He then over-cooked a corner and smashed into metal guardrails. Despite the obvious scratches on his face, Roglic also suffered contusions to his ribs and other parts in the high-speed impact. Roglic deftly saved the day in Como and remains in the hunt for pink, but later complained of a bad stomach.
On Friday, a healthier and near-recovered Roglic opened up some searing attacks near the finish line to remind everyone he’s still in the hunt for overall victory.
“I think it was a good sign to see Primoz attack,” said Jumbo-Visma sport director Addy Engels. “If you are on the limit, you can’t do things like that. Yesterday he already felt better but couldn’t show it on the bike. It’s good to see he still has good legs. Of course he will need good legs for Saturday’s stage and Sunday’s time trial but it’s still promising.”
Roglic pedals into the Giro’s final decisive weekend poised for battle. Sitting third overall at 2:16 back, Roglic is hoping to endure Saturday’s grueling five-climb stage across the Dolomites to have a chance for the overall in Sunday’s time trial.
“I just have pain on my chest from the crash,” Roglic said. “I didn’t drop nobody, so I have to see if some guys had some troubles to follow. [Saturday] is a crucial stage and I expect really, really big gaps.”
Roglic is hoping to at least salvage a podium position when the Giro ends Sunday in Verona. The final-day time trial favors Roglic, and that means his rivals will be attacking him to try to open up enough time to be able to move up.
Astana’s Miguel Angel Lopez let his ambitions be known with a big acceleration out of the GC group.
Jumbo-Visma officials also hope that if Roglic is back in top condition, he might even be able to claw some time back on overall leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar) and second place rider Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) going into Sunday’s TT.
“It looks that at the moment that there’s nothing bothering him and stopping him performing,” Engels said. “Of course he will need good legs for Saturday’s stage and Sunday’s time trial but it’s still promising.”
There is a lot of speculation that Nibali will try to attack in the day’s early climb at Passo Menghen, still far from the finish but far enough away to try to disrupt the overall standings.
Engels agreed that if Carapaz’s rivals wait until the final climb to the line Saturday it will likely be too little too late.
Despite everything that’s happened so far, Roglic’s final Giro outcome could be determined by what happens Saturday.
Following Friday’s positive signs, the team is optimistic that the Roglic the peloton saw in the first week is back just in time.
“For sure he’ll fight till the finish to get the best result possible and that’s to take back time,” Engels said. “What he showed today looked good but it all comes down to him, he needs the legs. It’s a 200km stage, it’s going to be decisive, that’s for sure.”