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Vuelta a Espana

Primož Roglič ‘chips away’ at Remco Evenepoel’s lead at Vuelta a España

Jumbo-Visma sets up Roglič for attack: 'We didn't expect Remco to cede time today.'

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JAEN, Spain (VN) — Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) clawed back some time to reduce his deficit to Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) to pump new life into the Vuelta a España.

The three-time defending champion surged clear with 4km to go on La Pandera, and reduced Evenepoel’s lead from 2:41 to 1:49 going into Sunday’s big clash at Sierra Nevada.

“It was a nice day. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Hopefully this can keep going. I am feeling better. It’s the race, huh?” Roglič said at the summit.

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Evenepoel couldn’t react when Roglič jumped, and Enric Mas (Movistar) and Miguel Ángel López (Astana-Qasaqstan) hitched a ride.

Roglič remained in second place overall, but is now a little bit closer with still a week to race.

“It’s still quite far, and the race is not over,” he said. “The guys did a great job on the team. Every one of them raced hard, and we can look forward to the next days. Today was hard, and tomorrow is tomorrow.”

Chris Harper: ‘We’re chipping away at Remco’s lead’

Chris Harper is providing key help during this Vuelta. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Robert Gesink and Chris Harper both put in big digs at the front to create a selection in the GC group and set up Roglič for his move at about 4km to go.

“Primož told us he was feeling good and to take over and make it hard, also with the idea to go for the stage,” Harper said. “It’s motivating to see Primož getting stronger and stronger, and we believed from the start that he could win this race, and that is getting confirmed.”

Jumbo-Visma isn’t throwing in the towel after losing Sepp Kuss and Edoardo Affini to illness, and Roglič is showing new signs of life after struggling to match Evenepoel in the steep climbs of northern Spain last week.

“It was a really good day. We are seeing Primož is progressively getting better and better, and we’re chipping away at Remco’s lead,” Harper said. “I am glad I could contribute something and hopefully set up Primož.”

DS Niermann: ‘It’s nice for us’

Jumbo-Visma sport director Grischa Niermann said they didn’t expect Evenepoel to be unable to follow the wheel when Roglič and others piled on.

“I didn’t expect Evenepoel to cede time today, but it’s nice for us,” Niermann said. “It’s the first time we see that he is vulnerable, and there are more days to come.”

“Primož said this morning he’d like to go for the stage. It was a very hard start for 70km, and we asked Robert to pull to make the race hard. We knew it was hard with 4.5km to go, and he went immediately,” he said. “We are in a good place with Primož.

“Tomorrow is the queen stage with the altitude finish, and it will be the hardest stage of the Vuelta,” Niermann said. “We will make a good plan and see how we attack the race tomorrow.”