Primož Roglič’s stage victory at Tirreno-Adriatico was hugely symbolic for the Slovenian in lots of different ways: It marked his return to success after a complex bone graft operation on his right shoulder and months of rehabilitation and pain. It also confirmed he has trained hard in recent weeks and is still on track to be a contender at the Giro d’Italia, which starts in this part of Italy in less than two months.
In a more lighthearted way, the victory also marked the end of Roglic’s hairy legs that have caused a stir in the Tirreno-Adriatico peloton this week.
“It’s been a while since I won, so it’s nice to be back.
“I said I’d only shave my legs when I win a race, so now I have to do it. But after six months, it’s easier said than done. It’ll take some time to shave all the hair off, to solve this hairy mess,” he joked, clearly overjoyed and relieved to win again.
The Slovenian last won on stage 4 of the 2022 Vuelta a España on a rising finish in Laguardia. But his season ended in pain and complex surgery after he crashed with Fred Wright as they sprinted at the end of stage 16. He received bone graft surgery to address an exacerbated and longstanding shoulder problem which had been gradually worsened by a series of crashes.
Roglič’s shoulder was immobilised for eight weeks after his surgery and he only got back into serious training in mid-December. He revealed the pain and suffering he has been through recently.
“I went through some tough months after my shoulder surgery, it was tough for me, my family and everyone around me. We made a lot of sacrifices but now we’re back and now I appreciate the nice moments even more after not being at the top.
“You always have a lot of doubts when things don’t go as you wish or you work for. But that’s part of life. You have to remember who you are and where you came from, what you do in life and how you do it. With the support of my family, I was able to get ready again and be good this season.”
Roglič won with his trademark, nearly unmatched surge to the line. He made sure he was well positioned in the final kilometre and then let his rivals hit the front before a well-timed acceleration to the line in the hilltop village of Tortoreto, overlooking the Adriatic coast. He beat Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) and Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates), the results confirming the quality of his victory.
Yet the stage could have been so different. Jumbo-Visma’s original race plan was to ride for Wout van Aert but…
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