LAGUARDIA, Spain (VN) — If there was any doubt about Primož Roglič following a nasty crash at the Tour de France last month, the Slovenian demolished them in spectacular fashion Tuesday at the Vuelta a España.
The three-time winner at Jumbo-Visma dashed to his 10th career stage victory and bounded into the leader’s red jersey to send a jolt across the peloton.
“It’s a nice surprise and I am super happy,” Roglič said. “The most important thing was that we could see that the legs are working good again.”
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Roglič returned to the Vuelta in his first race since abandoning the Tour with nagging pain.
Roglič crashed heavily during the cobblestoned stage 5, after a haybale was sent spinning into the road by a race vehicle, and hung around long enough last month for eventual winner Jonas Vingegaard to do the damage to Tadej Pogačar and snag the yellow jersey.
Searing pain forced Roglič out of the Tour going into the final week, and he barnstormed back at the Vuelta on Tuesday to telegraph to the peloton that he’s here to win what could be a record fourth straight Vuelta crown.
“It was already a hard race and it was a super-hard stage, and the final was good,” Roglič said. “A nice way to keep the jersey on the team.”
Roglič: ‘It’s just the beginning of the Vuelta’
Roglič was on the alert late in the stage when Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) jumped near the top of the final climb, and he was all over the move.
Jumbo-Visma did most of the lifting to reel in a dangerous breakaway to give Roglič a chance to win the stage and defend the team’s grip on the red jersey.
The final steep wall to Laguardia put a check on the GC contenders and stage hunters until the final few hundred meters.
Trek-Segafredo tried to line up Mads Pedersen, but Roglič relegated the Dane to his third consecutive second place. Enric Mas (Movistar) trailed through third, and there were only 12 riders to make it through on the same time.
“It’s just the beginning of the Vuelta, but it’s nice to get some seconds in the front and to see some others behind,” he said. “I had the legs and it’s my first stage win of this Vuelta.”
Back on track! 😍 pic.twitter.com/bL9Sen10bR
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) August 23, 2022
Jumbo-Visma won the opening day team time trial, and has since played hot potato with the jersey. Roglič’s win Tuesday made him the fourth of eight riders in the Vuelta from Jumbo-Visma to hold the leader’s jersey, taking over from Robert Gesink, Mike Teunissen, and Edoardo Affini.
“The team did a great job today to control the stage,” Roglič said. “That was the plan to change every day with the jersey and today was my lucky day with the jersey.”
Sepp Kuss also finished on the same time as Roglič and could be in pole position to have a shot at the red jersey before the week is out.
Jumbo-Visma is flying right now, and with Roglič showing early signs that he’s back to near peak form, the double-coup of the stage win and red jersey will send a shiver through the peloton.
As Roglič said, however, this was only the first of many hard days ahead for a decisive week of racing across northern Spain.
Roglič scored the first shot in the GC battle. Let’s see if he can go the distance.