Vuelta a España: Primož Roglič ‘limited damage’ in Evenepoel raid
DS Niermann on Roglič: 'He is not 100 percent but he is close and still in the fight.'
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NAVA, Spain (VN) — Primož Roglič rode to limit his losses Sunday against another spectacular display by Remco Evenepoel at Sunday’s decisive mountaintop finale at the Vuelta a España.
The three-time Vuelta champion could not match Evenepoel as he blazed to widen his overall lead going into Monday’s rest day. Roglič limited his losses, finishing 10th at just under one minute to Evenepoel.
Jumbo-Visma sport director Grischa Niermann said the Vuelta battle is not over yet despite slotting into third at 1:53 back, but admitted the team is far from ideal position.
“Primož is not 100 percent yet, but he is close and still in the fight,” Niermann said. “Today we wanted to limit the damage.”
After a superb start to the Vuelta, Jumbo-Visma is on its back foot following searing attacks from race leader Evenepoel.
Roglič went from leading Evenepoel by 27 seconds after winning stage 4 at Laguardia to now barely hanging on to a podium spot at third at nearly two minutes adrift.
“We hoped that Primož could stay with Evenepoel, but no one could follow Remco,” Niermann said. “He is not the leader for nothing. This was also a fair climb. The best drove away from the rest.”
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When the dust settled, Evenepoel widened his lead to Enric Mas to more than one minute, and to nearly two to Roglič.
Niermann was putting fingers into all kinds of leaks on the Jumbo-Visma ship this weekend. Climber ace Sepp Kuss left the race overnight after coming down with a fever, and did not start Sunday.
Niermann on GC gap: ‘The hole is big’
Roglič was hoping for more Sunday, and did not immediately speak to reporters at the top of the mountain nor at the team bus at the bottom.
“The hole is big,” Niermann said of the gap to Evenepoel. “But Primož has limited damage, and we still have two weeks to go.”
Up next following Monday’s rest day is Tuesday’s decisive time trial. Roglič normally would pour salt on the wounds against his GC rivals at the Vuelta, but Evenepoel should be able to defend the red jersey to Roglič and likely take time on everyone else.
Roglič, the Olympic time trial champion, will be under pressure to carve back time to Evenepoel as well as a string of Spanish riders all fighting for a podium spot in Madrid.
“I don’t expect a big gap between Primož and Remco on Tuesday, but there are also other riders on whom we want to take time,” Niermann said. “We will continue to fight, but of course we would have liked to have been closer.”