Slovenian cycling star Primož Roglič of Team Jumbo-Visma claimed his second Vuelta a Españatitle on Sunday after emerging victorious at this year’s Vuelta a Espana, defending the title he won in last year’s edition of the same race.
The 31-year-old had entered the race on the back of a disappointing and gruelling three weeks at the Tour de France, where he lost the leader’s yellow jersey on the last weekend of the world’s most prestigious cycling race to compatriot Tadej Pogačar.
Roglič quickly put that disappointment behind him by claiming victory on Stage 1 of this year’s Vuelta, wearing the iconic red leader’s jersey for 13 of the 18 days of racing.
Closest rival Richard Carapaz from Team Ineos Grenadiers was 10 seconds ahead of the Slovenian heading into the last week of racing, yet Roglič was back in red following Tuesday’s time-trial as he claimed the stage victory by one second, yet more importantly, managed to build a 39-second advantage of the Ecuadorian in second.
Team Jumbo-Visma managed to safely navigate the next three days of relatively flat racing as Roglič preserved, and then extended, his lead, as his second-place finish on Stage 16 came with a time-bonus of six seconds, giving him a 45-second lead on the general classification ahead of Saturday’s final day of racing.
Sticking with his rivals for the majority of Saturday’s mountainous route, Carapaz finally managed to wriggle away from Roglič’s grasp with two kilometres left to climb until the finish line as he sought to make up the 45 seconds over his rival. After Carapaz crossed the finish, all eyes immediately turned to the clock to see how much of an advantage he had built over the Team Jumbo-Visma captain, who crossed the finishing tape 21 seconds later, his 24-second advantage meaning overall victory was all but secured ahead of Sunday’s ceremonial stage into Madrid.
The celebratory and final stage provided no drama for the overall contenders, with a sprint finish seeing Germany’s Pascal Ackermann from Team Bora-Hansgrohe taking the stage victory.
Thus Roglič, who managed an impressive four stage wins over the three weeks of racing, was crowned champion for a second consecutive year, while also defending the green jersey he won last year for the most points.
“It’s beautiful to finish the season like this,” Roglič said after the race. “I always say every victory is beautiful. It’s really hard to win. I’m just super happy that I could win and to finish the season like this.
“It was a special year. I wish everyone a good health. Definitely I would like to thank the organisers. They made it happen, we could still race in November. I want to thank all the riders, specially my teammates. I also received a great support from home, from my family even if they’re not here at the moment. It’s really beautiful to win the red jersey and the green jersey to finish this year. See you next year.”
Carapaz ended as runner-up, his second Vuelta podium finish after winning last year’s Giro d’Italia, while third place when to 26-year British cyclist Hugh Carthy, who ended a Vuelta in the top three for the very first time.
France’s Guillaume Martin (Team Cofidis) claimed the polka dot jersey for the best climber, while Team Movistar’s Enric Mas from Spain claimed the white jersey for the best young rider. The award for the most combative rider went to Team Deceuninck Quick-Step’s French rider Rémi Cavagna while Movistar won the overall team category.
Final General Classification standings
1 Primož Roglič (SLO), Team Jumbo-Visma: 72:46:12
2 Richard Carapaz (ECU), Ineos Grenadiers: 00:00:24
3 Hugh Carthy (GBR), EF Pro Cycling: 00:01:15
4 Daniel Martin (IRL), Israel Start-Up Nation: 00:02:43
5 Enric Mas Nicolau (ESP), Movistar Team: 00:03:36
6 Wout Poels (NED), Bahrain McLaren: 00:07:16
7 David De la Cruz Melgarejo (ESP), UAE Team Emirates: 00:07:35
8 David Gaudu (FRA), Groupama-FDJ: 00:07:45
9 Felix Grossschartner (AUT), Bora-Hansgrohe: 00:08:15
10 Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Movistar Team: 00:09:34
STA, 7 November 2020 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) is set to win the Vuelta de Espana for a second time as he defended his lead over Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) in the crucial penultimate stage on Saturday from Sequeros to the Covatilla ski resort.
Wearing the leader's jersey before the 17th stage of the race around Spain and having a 45-seconds advantage ahead of Carapaz, the 31-year-old Slovenian managed to keep the lead, although giving away 21 seconds to Carapaz.
Sunday's last stage (124.2 km) in Madrid is a mere formality and Roglič is set to win his second Vuelta de Espana title, after he won the race also last year.
Roglič used the services of his strong team to deflect all attacks by Carapaz and the third-placed Hugh Carthy of the UK (EF Pro Cycling) to earn what is the third win for Slovenian riders in the three-week Grand Tour races.
Last year, he won the Vuelta de Espana and was second at this year's Tour de France, behind his compatriot Tadej Pogačar, to confirm his reputation as one of the best and most versatile riders in the world.
"It's always nice to have an exciting conclusion and this was really exciting. I had enough energy to know that it will be enough if I cycle in my own rhythm. Everything turned out well at the end," Roglič told the press after the race.
He was in a great deal of pain near the end but believed in the ultimate success. "I didn't have everything under control, but in such moments you have to remain calm and do what you can do," he said, also praising his Jumbo-Visma team.
"The team has done a good job once again, given that everybody went with full force right from the beginning of the Vuelta", said the Slovenian, who will also bring to Madrid the green jersey for the best sprinter for the second year in a row.
It was precisely his aggressive racing at the ends of stages that helped him earn the overall win. With four stage wins, exceptional sprints and overall consistency in stages earned him 48 bonus seconds, without which he would have lost to Carapaz.
"I'm very happy with winning the Vuelta. This is really a nice conclusion to the season," added Roglič.
Slovenian cycling sensation Primož Roglič is still on track to defend his Vuelta a Espana title despite giving up the leader’s red jersey following a difficult mountainous stage 12 on Sunday.
The Team Jumbo-Visma captain has been in impressive form so far in Spain, donning the iconic race leader’s jersey on seven of the days raced so far, his three stage wins cementing his favourite tag as he looks to repeat his Grand Tour victory of last year.
Sunday’s Stage 12 route was deemed the toughest of the 2020 Vuelta, and with good reason: the challenging 109.4km route from Pola de Laviana to Alto de L’angliru included five categorised climbs, the last involving a gruelling 23.5% ascent.
Roglič began the day in red, yet had the same overall time as Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz from Team Ineos Grenadiers from whom he had re-taken the red jersey two days prior.
A 20-man breakaway surged ahead in the early stages of the day’s race, yet were given a maximum three-minute lead before being reeled in by the peloton at the foot of the stage’s final climb.
Britain’s Hugh Carthy from Team Ef Pro Cycling, who started the day fourth overall, opened up a gap with 1.2km to the finish, the 26-year-old holding on to claim his first-ever Grand Tour stage victory.
Second-placed Carapaz still had energy in his legs to make a late dash towards the line, breaking away from Roglič as he crossed the finish 10 seconds ahead of his Slovenian rival.
Carapaz will take his narrow 10-second lead at the top into Monday’s rest day before heading into the last week of racing, starting with Tuesday’s 33.7km time-trial – a discipline usually favoured by former ski-jumper Roglič, who still tops the green jersey points rankings, a healthy 43 points ahead of Carapaz.
“It was too hard a climb for a sprinter,” the Slovenian star said after the day’s stage. “I didn’t have the best day but in the end it’s okay. I’m happy with this result and we go on with the time-trial on Tuesday. It will be a hard one. I will do my best and we’ll see how things are after the time-trial.”
Following Tuesday’s individual time-trial, three days of hilly racing follows, before a final mountain stage on Saturday ahead of Sunday’s final flat stage into Madrid.
Vuelta A Espana Leader Board After Stage 12 (Sunday, 1 November):
STA, 27 October 2020 - Slovenia's star road cyclists Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar continue to top the rankings of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), but they have switched places this week, with Pogačar, the recent winner of the Tour de France, becoming no. 1 for the first time.
The 22-year-old Pogačar, who ended the season after a third place at the 4 October classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege that was won by Roglič, has 3,970 points. The 30-year-old Roglič, the Tour runner-up who is currently riding in fourth-place overall as the defending winner of the Vuelta de Espana, has 3,945 points.
Meanwhile, remaining in third place in the UCI rankings is Roglič's Jumbo Vista teammate Wout van Aert from Belgium, who has 2,700 points.
Slovenia also holds the top stop in the country rankings ahead of France and Belgium. The rankings, which add up the points of the top eight riders from each country, give Slovenia 9,479 points, 152 points more than France.
STA, 20 October 2020 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo-Visma) won the first stage of the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday to establish himself as one of the favourites in the race around Spain as he is defending his overall winner title in the same race from last year.
In the 173-kilometre stage from Irun to Eibar, the 30-year-old defeated the closest followers Richard Carapaz of Ecuador and Dan Martin of Ireland to put on the overall leader's red jersey already after the first day.
"It is great to win. I'm very happy. The team has again showed that it is very strong. It has done an excellent job during the entire stage, and I returned the favour with the win. It is a nice way to start the Vuelta," Roglič said.
"It has been a strange season, so I will enjoy the overall leader's jersey from tomorrow on, and the fact that we are able to race here," the Slovenian added after taking over the red jersey for the 12th time in his career.
Slovenia is celebrating a double win today as Jan Tratnik won the 16th stage of the Giro d'Italia between Udine and San Daniele del Friuli to become only the fifth Slovenian ever to win a stage at the prestigious road race around Italy.
This made Slovenia the third country ever with stage wins at the Grand Tour races on the same day. The Giro and the Vuelta used to overlap, and the last time a nation managed the feat before today was in 1978 (Belgium).
This is meanwhile the third stage win ever for Roglič at the Vuelta a Espana, the race he won last year, when he also finished 3rd overall at Giro d'Italia.
Roglič's best achievement this year by far is the 2nd overall place at the Tour de France, the race won by his younger compatriot Tadej Pogačar of UAE Team Emirates.
STA, 4 October 2020 - Slovenia's cycling star Primož Roglič added on Sunday the Belgian one-day classic Liege-Bastogne-Liege to his portfolio of prestigious achievements. Two more Slovenian cyclists finished the race in the top 4.
Roglič, who recently had to concede to compatriot Tadej Pogačar at the Tour de France, won a hard-fought sprint finish after a 257km run through the Ardennes, inching out World Champion Julian Alaphilippe of France who had already raised his arms in celebration.
Alaphilippe was later relegated to fifth place due to a penalty, which put Pogačar on the podium behind Roglič and Swiss rider Marc Hirschi. What is more, a third Slovenian, Matej Mohorič, finished fourth.
Only one week following a double Slovenian victory in the Tour de France, the cycling elite is moving to Imola, Italy for the UCI 2020 Road World Championship. Over the four days of competition, which begins on Thursday, September 24 with the Women Elite Time Trial and concludes on Sunday, with Men Elite Road Race, we'll see the world's best cyclists, including Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič, compete against each other once again.
The Slovenian team, consisting of five female and eight male cyclists, will have one racer from both groups in the Time Trials of the first two days, and thus Eugenia Bujak will compete on Thursday and Jan Tratnik will compete in the male Time Trial on Friday.
To many who wonder why Tadej Pogačar, who just won last week's Tour de France in a spectacular Time Trial race, isn't going to preform in the WC Time Trial as well, the Slovenian National Team's coach Andrej Hauptman explained for Siol.si that ahead of the Tour it has been agreed with Primož and Tadej they would not compete in World Championship's Time Trial since those who went through the gruelling competition in the Tour would have no chance of winning this as well.
In Saturday's Women Elite Road Race we'll be cheering Urška Pintar, Eugenia Bajuk, Urška Žigart, Urška Bravec in Špela Kern.
In Sunday's Men Elite Road Race Slovenian team will consist of Primož Roglič, Tadej Pogačar, Jan Polanc, Luka Mezgec, Jan Tratnik, Jani Brajkovič, Domen Novak and Luka Pibernik.
STA, 21 September 2020 - Slovenia is celebrating Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič for their first and second overall place at the Tour de France in what is a historic feat for the nation that had already been crazed by past successes. The cycling euphoria is now reaching a new peak.
Pogačar crossed the finish line of the world's most prestigious road cycling race in Paris on Sunday after having already secured the win a day earlier with a superb performance in the penultimate, mountain stage.
It was a surprise twist at the only time trial of the race, as the 21-year-old had been trailing his older compatriot Primož Roglič, who had been an undisputed favourite throughout the race, by almost a minute.
Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) came aggressively right out of the gate to overtake the yellow jersey from the visibly exhausted Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), beating him by almost two minutes in what expert say was one of the most sensational performances in cycling history.
He became the second youngest winner of the Tour de France, and is the first 21-year-old to win the greatest of the three-week Grand Tour races as a newcomer after France's Laurent Fignon in 1983.
He is also the first to wear the yellow jersey (general classification leader), the polka dot jersey (best in the mountainous classification) and the white jersey as the best young rider.
After clinching the win, Pogačar said that "I think I'm dreaming. I really don't know what to say," and after arriving in the French capital he told reporters that "this is incredible, standing here in Paris on the top step of the podium."
"I never thought I would be here. It's been an amazing three-week adventure. I have to thank everyone who's been involved in the preparation for the race, everyone in my team and my family."
Despite his talent, Pogačar's victory is in a way a surprise given that his first three-week race was only last year's Vuelta, where he placed third, and the fact that his older compatriot Roglič was a clear-cut favourite among the Slovenians.
Roglič (29) was visibly disappointed but said the failure to win the Tour - his ultimate goal that seemed so close - could prove motivation for future. The ski jumper-cum-rider won Spain's Vuelta and placed third at Giro d'Italia last year.
"I'm super proud. I'm proud of what I managed to do and us as a team which really put on super shows throughout the three weeks. I wouldn't change a single thing, there are no regrets, the best rider has won, so sincere congratulations to Tadej," he said.
Many Slovenian fans came to Paris to cheer their winning champions, including President Borut Pahor, while locals in Pogačar and Roglič's home towns celebrated with open-air parties.
Congratulations and praise for both are still pouring in, with many experts agreeing that Pogačar's performance in the penultimate stage was one of the ages, which transcends any past performance of an up-and coming rider.
Slovenia's double victory was preceded by an epic battle between the two Slovenians, and the likes of the cycling legends Sean Kelly and Eddy Merckx labelled the eventual winner as one of the greatest riders of the current millennium.
Slovenian Andrej Hauptman, one of the directors of UAE Team Emirates, said Pogačar was a great gem of Slovenian cycling, and added that neither him nor Roglič had boundaries they were not able to cross.
The surprise win has also been making headlines internationally, with The Guardian saying "it was a strange Tour but the winner looks like he is here to stay at the head of exciting young breed of cyclists."
La Gazzetta dello Sport said that Pogačar had a brave heart, as he conquered the wind as his greatest enemy, and the French L'Equipe said that the Slovenian wonder had won what was his first Tour De France.
Sports media appear unanimous in the assessment that Pogačar has already become the main favourite in all future three-week races he will participate in, and that he could remain on the cycling throne for more than a decade.
The cycling papers speculate that the 2020s may become the battleground between Pogačar, Colombia's Egan Bernal and another cycling wunderkind, Remco Evenepoel of Belgium.
STA, 20 September 2020 - A new cycling champion is to be crowned as Slovenian Tadej Pogačar is set to win the Tour de France in Paris later today. While Primož Roglič led for much of the world's most prestigious race as a strong favourite, his younger compatriot put on a dramatic turn in Saturday's stage, and the pair secured a historic double victory.
Despite placing second overall, Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) remains a key name of this year's Tour, so the U-turn in the penultimate stage could not spoil Slovenia's celebrations.
Yet a new star is being born as Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) took the yellow jersey from Roglič after he had held it for a dozen days, making Slovenian and Tour de France history.
"Nailing first and second in the biggest bike race in the world is a huge step for one of the smallest cycle racing nations," is how The Guardian put it today.
The time trial brought the 21-year-old from the town of Komenda, some 20 km north of Ljubljana, a 59-second lead on Roglič, and somewhat unexpectedly, even for Pogačar himself, the overall victory.
"Incredible. Nobody expected what happened on Saturday. Nobody imagined he could take a minute away from Roglič and add another one," Miha Koncilija, Pogačar's first-ever coach, told the STA today.
Twitter went crazy last evening and Pogačar is being praised around the globe, with some media labelling his performance a historic turnaround and the overall victory one of the biggest achievements in the Tour's 117-year history.
Although his talent had not passed unnoticed, only few had dared to think Pogačar would rise to the stars so quickly.
Being a 2020 Tour de France debutant, his dream had been not to win the race, but to race in it in the first place.
Almost a one minute-lead before yesterday's 36-kilometre time trial should have sufficed for Roglič to keep the yellow jersey.
However, the 30-year old rider, who claimed his first Grand Tour victory in 2019's Vuelta a Espana, had a bad day - his performance was not the best and his compatriot rival was doing brilliantly.
The surprising development took many in Slovenia by surprise and many experience a feeling of injustice, given that Roglič pedalled exceptionally for three weeks, but eventually experienced, despite the second place, a painful defeat.
"We all saw how hard it was for Primož. The entire team had worked hard for his success, they had everything under control, and then one bad day spoils it all. It's hard. Of course we're thrilled, but still the whole thing is a bit bittersweet," said Koncilija.
"Roglič was the best rider throughout the race, he had an excellent team. So I respect him, he is really a good friend and I too feel his defeat. But this is part of racing, we all try to win in the end," is how Pogačar summed up the dramatic turnaround in the last serious stage before today's largely exhibition one.
A day before he turns 22, Pogačar is set to become the second youngest Tour de France winner and the youngest this century.
Despite comparisons with some of the cycling greats such as Belgium's Eddy Merckx, he remains modest, hardly thinking about them.
Asked by journalists to tell them something about himself after yesterday's victory, he said: "I'm a young guy from Komenda. I have two sisters and a brother. I don't know what else to say - I enjoy life. Small things are important to me. This stage is definitely too big for me."
He described his felling about the victory similarly: "This morning I was happy to be in second place. Then I had a really good day and it transpired that I won. I'm very happy."
He thanked his UAE Emirates team for giving him the opportunity to race at the Tour and his parents for passing on their good genes which enable him to regenerate fast.
His Tour victory will go down in history as the biggest achievement in Slovenian cycling, while the double victory inspires even more pride among Slovenian fans.
Many have arrived in Paris for the finale, including almost 400 on two charter flights, as well as President Borut Pahor and Foreign Minister Anže Logar.
Commenting on the Tour even before Pogačar overtook Roglič, Slovenian Cycling Association vice-president Martin Hvastija said: "My view of the Tour? Things seem pretty ... surreal. I feel like I'm in a parallel world."
STA, 19 September 2020 - Slovenians Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič reigned supreme at Saturday's decisive stage of the 107th Tour de France with Pogačar becoming the big winner after a surprise twist at the only time trial of the race. After making up for Roglič's 57-second lead, the 21-year-old Pogačar became the second youngest winner of the Tour.
Bagging his third stage victory at the Tour, Pogačar took the yellow jersey, beating Roglič by almost two minutes.
Roglič, visibly exhausted, finished fifth after the 36.2km course from Lure to La Planche des belles filles, to take the second place overall.
"I think I'm dreaming. I really don't know what to say," Pogačar said in his first statement after the race. "I'm really proud of the team. They did a really great job," he added.