The final days of the Vuelta a España look set to be a harmonious ride towards a podium sweep and the overall victory for Jumbo-Visma with the team presenting a united front after the controversy and confusion surrounding leadership and the battle for the red jersey on the Altu de L’Angliru.
Fans and commentators were left confused by the team’s hierarchy after the race’s queen stage two days ago, which saw Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard appear to drop teammate and race leader Sepp Kuss 2km from the top of the steep Asturian summit finish.
The confusion was dampened on Thursday’s stage 18 as the pair shepherded Kuss to the line at La Cruz de Linares, and several team members have since sought to play down any talk of intra-team competition or rifts.
“It’s definitely different than what you see on social media. There’s no hard feelings at all,” Hungarian rider Attila Valter told Eurosport after stage 19 when asked about the team vibe heading into the Vuelta’s final weekend.
“Also the past days and this whole Vuelta we’re just sticking together really well. For me personally, I still need time to realise what we achieved in this Vuelta because, whether you like the team or not, it’s history.
“Of course, there are different opinions about how we race, about what we do, but I’m just super proud to be in this group. It’s just amazing. We really enjoy it as a team together because this is eight super motivated and strong riders.”
Valter, who has played a key role in working for Kuss, who started the race as a super-domestique for the team’s two co-leaders, said that reading Twitter in the past few days has been “quite annoying”.
He noted that it’s easy to judge what’s going on in the team – the three leaders had agreed on being free to race each other prior to stage 18 – from the outside.
“If you [swim] through Twitter it’s getting quite annoying,” Valter said. “I’d rather just not do it. In the last two days, I wish I hadn’t done it because there is just too much opinion.
“Everywhere you see directors on social media. Of course, it’s really easy to judge a team from the outside. We did what we thought is the best – the team gave the freedom for everyone to race for victory and that’s how they did. In the end, you saw it yesterday that everyone wants Seppy to win. That’s just how they did.”
‘Even Primoz is happy with it’
Valter did, perhaps…