URDAX, Spain (VN) — Going in too hot and lacking support in the Giro d’Italia taught Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) well. Now he’s trying to apply those lessons in Spain, as he guns to win the 2019 Vuelta a España.
Roglic triumphed in the time trial Tuesday and leads the race by 1:52 over his nearest rival. If he holds on in the coming mountainous stages he’ll have fully redeemed himself from the unraveling in Italy. Those around the Slovenian rider believe there’s a good chance that’s exactly what will happen.
“I think one of the biggest strengths of Primoz is that he’s a smart guy,” said Patxi Vila, sports director at Bora-Hansgrohe. “I think he’s still developing but he learns super quickly. And I think that some of the mistakes he made in the Giro, we don’t see them here in the Vuelta.”
The 29-year-old blasted through the early season, winning all three stages races he entered, the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie. He then led the Giro for five days and won both time trial stages, but when the mountains arrived he ran out of gas.
“I think probably he was a little overexcited at the beginning of the Giro, and had too much of a favorite label on him,” Vila added. “I think that’s not the case now.”
“I think there’s something they learned from the Giro,” added Ineos Sports Director Nicolas Portal. “Now he’s racing more conservatively. In the first days, he must have thought, ‘All right, I’m going to follow and if I lose a bit of time – 3, 4, 10 seconds at the first summit finish – that’s OK. The first big day will be the Andorra stage and the time trial.’ And boom, that’s the way it was. I think he learned from the Giro how to use the three weeks and that’s a big difference.”
It’s a similar scenario to Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), who cracked towards the end of the Giro d’Italia in 2018, but returned to win the Vuelta a España later in the year.
Amazingly, Roglic only raced once since he ended third in the Giro d’Italia on June 2, lining up for his country’s national road championships.
“I think the main thing is actually just the approach,” Jumbo-Visma teammate George Bennett said. “The impression I had was that he was already so good in Abu Dhabi, Tirreno and Romandie, so that naturally he just started creeping a little bit after.
“It was ambitious to start the Giro with all that under the belt. It would have been fine if he didn’t try to win everything. I mean, it’s my theory, but I’m sure the lack of racing since the Giro has definitely [been better].”
Another teammate, Robert Gesink believes that the team is just that much stronger. Sepp Kuss raced both the Giro and Vuelta, and is clearly now stronger in the Vuelta. The support of Gesink and Bennett is also significant.
“I think that’s one of the main things is that we’ve got a really strong team,” said Gesink. “You see how Sepp works, Nielsen is up there. I was up there in Andorra, for example, and then we got the Tony Martian, who is was actually like four or five guys strong. So we got a really strong team here.”
Wednesday and Thursday’s stages at the Vuelta are perfect for breakaways. But Friday the Vuelta heads for the skies again with a stage finish at Los Machucos. We’ll soon know if Roglic has fully embraced those Giro lessons.