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Giro d'Italia

Roglic unravels: a pee break, a bike change, a crash

Roglic forced to finish the stage on a bike too small for him when team car got caught at the back of the caravan.

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COMO, Italy (VN) — A bike a change, a crash, and more lost time. How did it all go wrong for Primoz Roglic? Just call it a case of bad timing for a pee break.

Things quickly unraveled for the Jumbo-Visma captain Sunday at the sharp end of a rollercoaster stage into Como.

The Slovenian started the day just seven seconds behind Richard Carapaz (Movistar), but lost 40 additional seconds in a string of bad luck and coincidences just ahead of the day’s most dangerous climb at the short but steep Civiglio above Como.

Roglic needed a bike swap, but his Jumbo-Visma sport director had just stopped for an emergency pee break. Directors had just passed up bottles and feeds to their riders and it seemed like a good moment to stop before things got crazy.

That’s just when Roglic called out over the radio he needed a new bike because his shifter wasn’t working.

“It was after the decent, along the lake. We supplied him with a few bottles and we needed a quick break to take a pee,” said Jumbo-Visma sport director Addy Engels. “The moment we got into the car, I don’t know what happened, but we heard on the radio that he needed a new bike. In terms of timing and bad luck, it was the worst that could happen.”

With the team car stuck in traffic at the back of the caravan, Roglic was forced to swap bikes with teammate Antwan Toehoek, whose setup is obviously different than Roglic’s. The saddle was a bit lower and the reach was a bit shorter, enough to throw off any top pro.

Then the attacks came. Nibali surged clear over the climb where he’s won two editions of the Giro di Lombardia. Carapaz followed, and Roglic was ceding ground. The gap was barely 12 seconds over the summit. By then, it was too late to swap bikes with the team car. Riding on his teammates’ smaller bike, Roglic over-cooked a corner and crashed into a guard-rail. Luckily, he wasn’t seriously injured, but gave up time on a day he couldn’t afford to.

The ever-cool Roglic tried to play down the implications.

“I actually didn’t have my bike so everything is a little different and I was a little too fast in the corner,” Roglic said. “It’s true [I lost some time], but like I said, it’s still some day to go.”

And those scrapes to his face? Well, Roglic said that’s no big deal, either.

“I’m bleeding the most here from the face but it’s not so hard,” he said. “So luckily I don’t pedal so much with the face, eh.”

Roglic might be making light of the situation, but it was obvious things could have been much worse. He was lucky that he had a teammate with him to swap bikes, though neutral service would have also been available.

He avoided a potentially serious injury in the crash and remains second overall. But he’s slowly losing time to Carapaz, who is growing more confident by the day.

“For the time trial, I am confident that I can go well. But right now I am not obsessing about the time trial,” Carapaz said. “We are protecting the pink jersey as a team.”

If Roglic is still counting on the final time trial to try to win this Giro, a string of bad luck Sunday dramatically changed that scenario.

Seven seconds to Carapaz was a gap that Roglic could easily manage on the Ecuadorian climber. Forty-seven seconds in a 17km course that includes a climb is something else.

“Yeah, it’s not the best,” Roglic said. “But it’s not the worst, either. I’m happy with how it turned out. I’m looking forward to the rest day.”

Roglic started the second week in the driver’s seat, leading all of his major GC rivals by nearly two minutes or more. Going into the second rest day and the final week of racing, it’s now up to Roglic to go on the attack if he wants to win this Giro.