We’ve been here before with Primoz Roglic. On the road to San Marino, in the Giro d’Italia, to be precise.
A dominant time-trial, rivals flailing in his wake, and the massed ranks of social media declaring the race over. Done. Forget the next fortnight: he’s uncatchable.
But he wasn’t.
The mountains, and the wafer-thin climbing specialists made sure of that.
So, in the interests of lessons learnt, let’s agree that at the conclusion of today’s time-trial from Jurancon to Pau, Roglic is not the race winner. He’s the favourite. Though for the record, if Nairo Quintana manages to reel back the three minutes he lost today I’ll happily eat my own cycling helmet.
Let’s not be hasty, that’s all.
‘Superman’ Lopez fared slightly better than Quintana but still shipped a couple of minutes.
Valverde, lurking, as he does, lost a minute and a half and sits second overall, nearly two minutes back on the Slovenian.
My only hope now – for the race, the sport, and for Roglic himself – is that this epically quick time-trialling all-rounder develops a discernible personality, and does it quickly. Something on which we can hang our affection.
Because right now, he gives us little to go at.
He has no obvious quirks or kinks on the bike. He says nothing, really, to the media. He hasn’t got a daft haircut or a wacky pair of shades. The brief kiss and cuddle with baby and partner as he warmed down on the turbo trainer post-stage was our first indication that he’s even a human being.
Without one or two funny anecdotes and some footage of tour bus larks, backed up with a couple of strongly held and forthrightly expressed opinions, he’ll remain a distant figure.Embed from Getty Images
As a bike rider, though, he’s a force.
On Stage 9, crashing on gravel and then dragging himself clear of Lopez and Valverde on the final climb, he showed character and grit. In today’s TT, he was magisterial.
As the cameras flitted between he, Quintana, and Lopez, the difference was stark. From the moment Roglic rolled down the start ramp – clunk! – his body assumed a chiselled, honed, stock still position. Aero and powerful. In contrast to the two Colombians, who fidget and wiggle as if riding someone else’s bike wearing someone else’s skinsuit.
The time-trial is not their forté.
Over the next eleven stages La Vuelta will serve up lots and lots of mountains. The sun will shine relentlessly. Movistar will baffle and entertain with their ‘team’ tactics. Valverde will lurk. Lopez will glide around, stone faced, like an assassin.
And in the end it might turn out that Roglic did, indeed, win La Vuelta today.
But we all know speculation is a mugs game.
(Image: By Konstantin Kleine – Praca własna, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=78773373)
Interesting observation… Pretty simpified and narrow minded but we each have our own views :). I would technically agree with you but I only care how someone does their thing. Primož came to win a race, not show off hair green or something… Besides, there’s a thin line between quirky personality and crave for attention – which itself is a sign of flawed focus.
You also have to understand that you won’t find many Slovenian athletes with “the personality” you speak of.
It’s a consequence of historical circumstances – starting with being a small nation, few hundred years under Austrian rule (Germans don’t really like flashy subordinates…) and ending with 45 years under socialism (where we were all supposed to be equal).
So, combine a strong sense of equality with elements of German professionalism (strong focus). Therefore, when we have an odd, quirky personality amidst ourselves, he/she is interesting at first but gets old quickly. As soon as the results aren’t good anymore, the mob gets annoyed and the athlete is thrown under the bus for spending too much time on his green hair.
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Thanks Peter, I appreciate your comment. Interesting to get a little background on the Slovenian personality.
I would add, however, that you take my little blog too seriously…no offence intended ✌🏻
No offence, of course. I only stumbled on this article so I wouldn’t know how serious you generally want to be taken. However, when words are put on internet they mean something (and different people may interpret them differently ;).
All in all, let’s hope for an amazing ending of Vuelta :).
Indeed! Thanks for stopping by…you gave me pause for thought.