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The Jumbo-Visma star narrowly avoided crashing late in Sunday’s frenetic bunch sprint finale in stage 2, and saved his race leader’s red jersey.
Roglič and King of the Mountains jersey Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) both managed to steer wide of the falling bodies to finish safely in the main bunch.
“We avoided it and didn’t crash,” Roglič said. “This is cycling. You always need a bit of luck on your side.”
Riders went down in the middle of the pack with about 4.5km to go in Sunday’s 166km stage, and a few top names ended up losing time, including Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-Nippo).
Because the crash happened outside the “safe zone” at 3km to go, any time differences stuck.
Ineos Grenadiers saw Yates lose 31 seconds and teammate Pavel Sivakov give up 1:15.
Others caught up included Carthy, last year’s third-place finisher, who ceded 38 seconds.
Yates and Carthy both gave up time Saturday to Roglič, and slipped to 56th at 51 seconds back for Yates, and 1:11 back for Carthy.
Also read: What the stars said after Stage 2
Others losing time were Lucas Hamilton (BikeExchange) at 31 seconds, Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious) at 38 seconds, and David de la Cruz (UAE-Emirates) at 1:11.
Several riders were injured, including riders from Bora-Hansgrohe, Israel Start-Up Nation and Burgos-BH.
— Juanfran de la Cruz (@juanfdelacruz) August 15, 2021
Still in red but ready to give it away
Roglič, who barnstormed to victory in Saturday’s opening time trial, also kept the red leader’s jersey after second-place rider Alex Aranburu (Astana-Premier Tech) finished outside the finish-line time bonuses.
Aranburu started Sunday six seconds behind Roglič, and won back two seconds in an intermediate sprint to trim the gap to four seconds going into the sprint. He would have taken red if he had finished in the top-3, but could only muster fifth.
That keeps Roglič in the leader’s jersey, even though he said he has no intention of sweeping the entire three-week Vuelta decked out in red.
“It wouldn’t be a problem to lose it,” Roglič said. “Like I always say, I would be the most happy if I could put the red jersey on after the TT in Santiago after the last stage.”
Roglič wouldn’t mind giving up red for a few days to a non-threatening rider, but he will be keeping a sharp eye on his direct GC rivals in Monday’s summit finale at Picón Blanco, a steep first-category summit that could see him widen his lead even more.
“First of all we have to get through the flat. It will be nervous with wind and the flat parts,” he said. “It is a super-hard climb, and for sure there will be some time gaps between us and the best guys.
“Our main concern tomorrow is to get to the climb, and then to do our best,” he said. “We will see who is the best early in this race.”
Kuss, meanwhile, rode Sunday’s stage decked out in the blue and white climber’s jersey, with tape and gloves to match. With no climber’s points in play Sunday, he will carry the distinctive climber’s jersey into Monday’s stage.
“The goal is to help Primož,” Kuss said at the start Sunday. “It’s kind of nice to have the climber’s jersey, but I am not going to be defending it. I got it [Saturday] because I went hardest on the climbing part of the time trial. Monday is a real climb, so it will be a hard stage already.”