The team is new, the business of winning the Tour de France is still very serious, but the self-deprecation remains resolutely intact.
Before the questions started at Bora-Hansgrohe’s media day in Mallorca on Wednesday, Primož Roglič leaned across to head sports director Rolf Aldag with a conspiratorial grin. “You have a lot of words, you speak good,” he said. “I’m super happy to sit here and just say ‘yes’, ‘no,’ and smile…”
Roglič’s comfort in the spotlight has increased immeasurably, of course, since his first, hesitant interactions with fame on arriving in the WorldTour in 2016, while Aldag pointed to the Slovenian’s communication skills as one of the most striking elements from his early weeks at Bora-Hansgrohe.
“Primož talks to everybody, he’s open to everybody, and he suggests things that could be better,” Aldag said. “To be that active and outspoken is unique. He’s positive, he gets people on board. It’s not the usual way when a superstar comes to a new team.”
Aldag, for his part, has done his bit to get Roglič on board with the novel idea of taking a fresh approach to planning his season. Rather than aim at amassing his usual slew of victories across the calendar, Roglič’s entire programme has been retrofitted around the Tour de France.
Any success before July, in other words, will be a byproduct of his Tour preparation rather than a goal in and of itself, and Aldag has little interest in gauging his progression against Jonas Vingegaard, Tadej Pogačar and Remco Evenepoel before then. “Where we want to clash with the ‘Big Four’ is at the Tour de France,” Aldag explained, a point Roglič supported.
“The key point is going for the Tour de France. For everything in between, it’s a bonus or a plus if you can achieve good results,” Roglič said. “But mostly, you need to stay healthy and happy, and then the rest will follow.”
Roglič will start his season in March at either Paris-Nice or Tirreno-Adriatico. It is expected he will also ride Itzulia Basque Country, while Aldag confirmed that he will line out at the Critérium du Dauphiné rather than the Tour de Suisse. All those races, meanwhile, will be preceded by long spells at altitude. “Unfortunately for his family, he will spend a lot of time somewhere on a volcano,” Aldag said.
Roglič spent much of his hour of media availability on Wednesday fielding questions about his departure from Jumbo-Visma last Autumn, which was…