‘I got a bit of legs back’ – Primoz Roglic ready for final Giro d’Italia TT showdown
Primož Roglič had no duty on the stage 19 podium at Tre Cime di Lavaredo, but ducked into the backstage area to warm up on the rollers and quietly celebrate another successful mountain ride at the Giro d’Italia.
On Tuesday, Roglič appeared on the ropes after losing 25 seconds at the finish of Monte Bondone, but the Jumbo-Visma rider refused to give up in the three-way battle with Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and João Almeida (Team United Arab Emirates). .
In the final 1.5km of the steep climb to the stunning Tre Cime di Lavaredo finish, Roglič attacked twice, with Almeida losing contact and more precious seconds.
Roglič only managed to distance Thomas in the final meters to gain three seconds and reduce his overall deficit to just 26 seconds, but it was a psychological victory. He has distanced Almeida by 59 seconds and so only has to beat Thomas to have a shot at the overall victory. Now Thomas and Roglič will face off in Saturday’s decisive 18.6km mountain time trial at Monte Lussari.
Roglič has been evasive before and after stages at the Giro d’Italia, but Cyclingnews persuaded him to speak briefly after he hugged and kissed his wife and young son, who are following the Giro d’Italia in a camper van.
“I’m happy. It was fun and tomorrow we’ll be full again,” Roglič told a growing crowd of media, microphones and cameras. “It’s good, eh, I’ve got my legs back a bit, so tomorrow we’ll be full.”
Roglič lost the 2020 Tour de France in spectacular fashion to Tadej Pogacar at La Planches des Belles Filles in a similar mountain final test, losing almost two minutes to his compatriot and thus the yellow jersey.
He insisted he had no fears after three years and claimed he was confident about the mountain time trial from Tarvisio near the Austrian-Slovenian border to the postcard finish at the top of Monte Lussari.
“If I wasn’t sure, I wouldn’t start. The best wins in the end”, said Roglič defiantly.
Sepp Kuss again played a vital role in supporting Roglič. He was there again until his team leader made his first attack with 1.5km to go and again revealed more about Roglic’s race and his condition.
The rider from Durango explained why Roglič chose not to attack earlier.
“It was a tough, tough day, with the climb to the bottom even tougher than I imagined. With such a steep climb in altitude you have to save it for last. If you throw a fit, you don’t really get very far, the difference comes if someone is having a bad day,” Kuss explained.
“We didn’t need to try an attack earlier, Ineos was setting a good pace and so Primoz saved his legs to make a move when it mattered.
“I saw him attack on the slope. The time gain isn’t much, but it’s a morale boost. With the way Thomas is riding the steep climbs, it’s hard to make a big difference, but I think the time gain will give Primož a boost for the time trial.
“It should be a big final. There were small differences today, but I think tomorrow will be a big decisive day, it will be exciting.”