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Tour de France

Tour de France time bonuses add up to yellow jersey and more for Roglič

Jumbo-Visma targeted time bonuses to give Roglič important 21-second lead to Bernal.

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Could Primož Roglič win the Tour de France thanks to time bonuses?

Probably not, but right now, his yellow jersey GC advantage comes thanks to them.

“It’s nice to win the bonuses,” Roglič said Sunday. “Now we are in a good situation.”

After nine stages of racing, Roglič and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) are tied on real time after they’ve finished in the same group in every stage. The Slovenian’s 21-second GC advantage comes thanks to adroitly picking up time bonuses.

Roglič won 10 seconds with his stage victory at Orcières-Merlette in stage 4, and added 11 more Sunday, with 5 seconds at the top of the Marie-Blanque, and 6 seconds at the finish line with second place.

So far, Bernal has not earned a single time bonus. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) is in third place thanks to a four-second time bonus he picked up with third in stage 4, putting him two seconds ahead of Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) on GC.

Take away those bonuses, and Roglič still would be in yellow Sunday based on placement.

Twenty-one seconds in any Tour de France, however, is quite a bit of time. Tours have been won by less, and Bernal admitted as much.

“I might have lost a few seconds in time bonuses, but I stay content from the sensations during the stage,” Bernal said. “Obviously, I am 21 seconds behind Roglic, who is a rider who is very strong in the time trial, and with the time trial on the penultimate day, it’s obvious that I have to recover that time.”

Jumbo-Visma’s George Bennett said Saturday the team was chasing the time bonuses for Roglič, and with a strong finishing kick, Roglič will have the advantage against Bernal in almost every scenario if the pair come to the line together.

“If the time bonuses are there, we ride for them,” Bennett said Saturday. “We know Primož is fast in the sprint, so we will pick those up when we can.”

Time bonuses certainly spiced up the racing in the Pyrénées, and the dynamics across the two stages were largely shaped by time bonuses out on the road. Mitchelton-Scott was content to let the break go Saturday, so that the time bonuses were chewed up at the line, and Adam Yates could stay in yellow.

On Sunday, Jumbo-Visma helped keep the pace so high that the day’s break never pulled clear until after the first hour of racing. That meant the mountain-top time bonuses were still in play behind solo attacker Marc Hirschi (Sunweb), and Roglic and Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Emirates) sparred at the line.

“After losing time in the crosswinds, I need to regain time back,” said Pogačar, who won 12 seconds in bonuses Sunday. “The time bonuses help, but I will need to attack even more if I want to have a chance for the podium.”

Tour director Christian Prudhomme removed time bonuses a few years ago in search for a “true time.” What he got was a boring race. He brought them back, with 10, 6 and 4 bonuses at the line during the past several editions of the Tour.

Prudhomme even upped the ante last year, adding special “mid-race” bonuses of 8, 5 and 2 seconds on select climbs throughout the Tour. The first one in the 2020 Tour came on stage 2, and Adam Yates picked up a bonus which was pivotal for him to inherit yellow when Julian Alaphilippe was later handed down a time penalty. The next bonuses on the Col de la Lusette in stage 6 was won by the day’s main break.

Those mid-race mountaintop bonuses dramatically altered the outcome Sunday. With a five-second bonus still in play behind Hirschi, Roglič actually moved into the “virtual” yellow jersey when he won the Marie-Blanque mountaintop bonus ahead of Pogačar.

With those 21 seconds in their pocket, Jumbo-Visma will be able to ride a tad bit easier as the team pedals into the second full week.

“We see it’s always a fight for every second,” Roglič said. “I’m really happy the position I’m in at the moment, given how things are. Still a lot of things will happen until we arrive in Paris.”

During the post-stage press conference, Roglič wore the obligatory face mask and clutched his stuffed yellow “lionceau” in his arms. His 21-second lead that comes with the yellow jersey so far is thanks to time bonuses.