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After crashing Tuesday, the two-time defending champion had another lucky escape as he hit the deck again — the second time in three days — on stage 12. Fortunately for Roglič, he once again rode away with little damage to himself and none to his overall hopes.
Roglič came down with about 10 riders, including several of his teammates, after a fall near the front of the group on a short downhill section, with just under 55km to go, rippled through the bunch. Roglič was able to remount his bike quickly enough but had a fast chase ahead of him before the riders reached a key section of the parcours.
“It was quite a long time before the break went, I think we did 100k within a few hours and then UAE took control, and it was fine for us. Suddenly, in 500 meters of the downhill I think that almost all our team crashed and Ineos as well,” Roglič’s Jumbo-Visma teammate Koen Bouwman told Eurosport after the stage.
“So, it was a bit s***, but we came back. In the end, I think Stevie [Kruijswijk] and Primož went down quite hard, but they look ok so and we didn’t lose time.”
Roglič, who was chasing with three teammates, made contact with the bunch four kilometers after sliding along the asphalt. He rolled into the finish with the vastly reduced bunch to maintain his third place overall and stay top of the pre-race favorites for now.
“[There was] not really panic because we were the whole team together, but it also looked like at the front the speeded up and a lot of guys got dropped and we had to pass them,” Bouwman said. “Before the real downhill, we wanted to be in the front again and just on the top we were. It was a bit chaotic, but we were there in the end with six guys, so it was no problem.”
Also read: Magnus Cort punches to stage 12 win
“Primoz and Lennard are okay. Steven has a few scratches. There was not a lot we could do today,” said Jumbo-Visma sport director Grischa Niermann. “We fell over the men from Ineos. Luckily we got through and we can continue our journey in this Vuelta.”
With the big mountains coming again this weekend, Roglič will be hoping to keep tires to tarmac for a few more days this time. There’s very little in the way of downhill to contend with during Friday’s stage 13 but it’s the days where the riders least expect it that the race can be turned on its head.
Mixed fortunes for Ineos Grenadiers
Ineos Grenadiers’ GC hopes also had a lucky escape after Adam Yates was involved in the same incident that felled Roglič.
The crash appeared to be sparked by two of the team’s riders, Dylan van Baarle and Tom Pidcock, touching wheels near the front of the peloton as they rode around a corner.
Pidcock was able to stay upright initially, but he was sent into the grass shoulder to the right of the road and tumbled off his bike. Meanwhile, van Baarle came down hard and collected Yates and Salvatore Puccio as he slid along the road.
While Yates and Pidcock appeared to have avoided any serious injury, Puccio seems to have been heavily winded by the incident while van Baarle had blood pouring from his arms below the elbow.
Like Roglič, Yates made reasonably quick work of getting back into the peloton, though he had less assistance than the Jumbo-Visma leader as a result of the crash. He remains in eighth place overall, some 11 seconds behind his teammate Egan Bernal and three minutes behind Roglič.
Both van Baarle and Puccio eventually finished the stage in the final group on the road, which also contained Richard Carapaz, just over 22 minutes behind the winner Magnus Cort.
It remains to be seen what the full extent of their injuries are, but it would be a big blow to the team if either is forced to abandon the race as a result of the crash. Both are major engines within the Ineos pack and van Baarle has looked a likely contender to take a stage win from a breakaway.
Movistar’s key GC men missed the crash, but Nelson Oliveira was not so lucky as he hit some barbed wire when he went off the road. Fortunately, the Portuguese rider was left with only some superficial wounds and should be able to continue with little trouble.
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) August 26, 2021