In the final countdown to the 2023 Vuelta a España, Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič remain firmly committed to the idea that whoever dons the final red leader’s jersey in this year’s race in Madrid in three weeks time, all that matters is that it’s a Jumbo-Visma rider.
Both Roglič, a triple Vuelta a España winner who conquered his first Giro d’Italia recently, and Vingegaard, since July a double Tour de France champion, could have every reason to demand sole leadership status inside the yellow-and-black team when it comes to the Spanish Grand Tour.
But instead, in their final pre-Vuelta press conference, the two riders neatly fudged questions about Jumbo-Visma’s top candidate for the race, with Roglič even throwing in a curve ball by saying “it could also be Sepp Kuss, he’s part of the team”.
Vingegaard then pointed out that on the few times he and Roglič have worked as co-leaders in the past that it “already went pretty well.”
Examples he could have cited include the Itzulia-Basque Country week-long stage race in 2021, which Roglič won outright with Vingegaard in second, while in the Tours de France of 2021 and 2022, Roglič quit both races from injuries, but Vingegaard went on to finish second and first overall in the two successive editions.
“We work pretty well together, I don’t think we have to decide now, we will see on the road,” Vingegaard, who has not raced since winning the Tour, insisted. “We can help each other. The main goal is to win, we’re not racing against each other, we’re racing with each other.
“We definitely have a strong team, it’s not necessarily me or Jonas that has to be in front, we all need to realise that we want to win the Vuelta and for sure the climbs will show us who is best,” Roglič added before name-checking Kuss, a key mountain support rider for both himself and Vingegaard this year, as a possible Jumbo-Visma candidate for Vuelta leadership in Jumbo.
With what is widely considered the strongest team in this year’s Vuelta to support them, both Vingegaard and Roglič did not rule out the idea that Jumbo-Visma could even end up with the top two spots on the podium, something last acheived in a Grand Tour by Ineos Grenadiers in the 2019 Tour de France with Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas.
“That would be amazing, a luxury problem,” Vingegaard said. “To win the red jersey is the main goal, but if there are two leaders [on the final GC podium], then for sure we will take…