‘I got a bit of legs back’ - Primoz Roglic ready for final Giro d’Italia TT showdown
Primož Roglič didn’t have any stage 19 podium duties at the Tre Cime di Lavaredo but dived into the backstage area to warm down on the rollers and quietly celebrate another successful ride in the mountains at the Giro d’Italia.
On Tuesday, Roglič seemed on the ropes after losing 25 seconds on the Monte Bondone finish but the Jumbo-Visma rider refused to give up in the three-way tussle with Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates).
In the final 1.5km of the steep climb to the breathtaking 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 metres to gain three seconds and reduce his overall deficit to just 26 seconds, but it was a psychological victory. He has distanced Almeida to 59 seconds and so only has to beat Thomas to have a shot at 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 convinced 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.
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“I’m happy. It was fun and tomorrow we go full again,” Roglič said to a growing scrum of media, microphones and cameras. “It’s good, eh, I got a bit of legs back, so tomorrow we go full.”
Roglič famously lost the 2020 Tour de France to Tadej Pogacar in the La Planches des Belles Filles in a similar final mountain time trial, losing almost two minutes to his compatriot and so the yellow jersey.
He insisted he had no fears three years on and claimed he was confident for the mountain time trial from Tarvisio near the Austrian and Slovenian border up to the postcard finish atop Monte Lussari.
“If I wasn’t confident I wouldn't start. The best one at the end wins,” Roglič said defiantly.
Sepp Kuss again played a vital role in supporting Roglič. He was again there until his team leader made his first attack with 1.5km to go and again revealed more about Roglič’s race and his condition.
The rider from Durango explained why Roglič opted not to attack earlier.
“It was a tough, hard day, with the climb to the finish even harder than I imagined. With such a steep climb at altitude you have to save it for the end. If you make an attack you don’t actually go 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 doing a good tempo and so Primoz saved his legs to make a move when it mattered.
“I saw him make an attack on the steep part. The time gain is not much but it’s a boost for morale. With how Thomas is riding on 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 grand finale. There were small differences today but I think tomorrow is going to be a big deciding day, it's going to be exciting.”