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Primož Roglič couldn’t hide the agony of defeat.
The Jumbo-Visma leader saw his seemingly unimpeachable grip on the 2020 Tour de France yellow jersey torn open by Tadej Pogačar within the span of 36 kilometers on Saturday. Roglič lost his legs on the stage he needed them most on Saturday’s time trial, crumbling from the top of GC with a 57-second advantage at the start of the day to second in the classification, 59 seconds down.
After the stunning ride, Roglič sat on the asphalt looking dazed and disappointed as his teammates tried to console him.
“I couldn’t give more,” Roglič said after the stage.”I gave everything, but I couldn’t push enough. With this result as a result … I just obviously didn’t push enough. It was like that. I was just more and more without the power that I needed.”
The 30-year-old saw his yellow jersey dream shattered when his one off-day during an otherwise faultless Tour coupled up with a crushing performance from countryman Pogačar.
Despite going into Saturday’s stage as a level contender in a race against the clock with 21-year-old Pogačar, Roglič looked in trouble from early on, with Pogačar 14 seconds faster after 14 kilometers of the race and nearly 40 seconds better by the base of the climb to the finish atop the Planche des Belles Filles.
Roglič continued to lose time up the steep ascent as he labored a heavy gear on his road bicycle. It was far from the high-cadence, smooth pedal stroke that saw him ride away from Pogačar on the Orcieres-Merlette and Col de la Loze climbs earlier in the Tour.
“It hurt to see Primož suffering like that,” teammate Wout van Aert said. “I saw another Primož on the bike than usual. You saw that he lost his cadence. Losing it at the very last day is very hard.”
Roglič continued to shed time over the course of the climb as Pogačar steamed through the time trial of his life. Roglič was more than aware that the wheels were coming off his Tour de France as his race directors fed through the time splits in his earpiece.
“Of course it’s not nice to hear those intervals,” Roglič said. “You would rather have it the other way around, but I couldn’t give more.”
He gave everything, but it wasn't his day.
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) September 19, 2020
The day had started out perfectly for Jumbo-Visma. Its three time trial talents Roglič, Van Aert, and Tom Dumoulin had ridden the route beforehand, and knew the climb well. Van Aert displaced Remi Cavagna from the race lead after the Frenchman had sat in the hot seat for nearly two hours. Then, Dumoulin displaced him at the top of the leaderboard.
“Everything went perfectly, actually, we worked very hard for it and there was no indication that it would go wrong today,” Van Aert said.
Then, it became all-too apparent that Jumbo-Visma’s perfect day was at threat as Roglič pedaled his way into his six-kilometer journey from Tour de France glory to utter disappointment. As Roglič lost his mojo, Pogačar blazed up the climb, taking the ascent around one minute faster than his elder countryman.
Roglič ended the day fifth on the stage, with Van Aert fourth and Dumoulin second. For Jumbo-Visma, three riders in the top-six was no consolation for losing grip on a race that they had controlled from the opening week.
“We went all-out every day,” Van Aert said. “We gave everything and did everything perfectly. In a manner of speaking, we were already ready to celebrate, so it is very difficult to hand this over at the last minute.”
Roglič’s disappointment Saturday is his second grand tour collapse, having fallen out of the Giro d’Italia’s pink jersey to finish third on the GC in last year’s race in Italy. He attempted to see some positives in the situation, which left him with his best-ever Tour placing.
“We will see [how I deal with this],” he said. “Still I can be happy with the result and the racing we showed here, so let’s take the positives.”