Giro d’Italia contender Primož Roglič crossed the finish line of stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia thanking his lucky stars after narrowly avoiding a serious collision in the first of multiple crashes that ripped through the peloton in a fraught finale.
“Happy to be here” was Roglič’s succinct analysis of how he felt about the closing kilometres of the stage, which saw key rival Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep) crash twice in one day.
Roglič’s good fortune also extended to not losing time despite being forced to a stop in the first of the crashes with seven kilometres to go, with Jumbo-Visma working furiously in a chase group to bring him back into contact with Evenepoel and the rest of the front group.
Rain-soaked and grimy on a day of very rough weather conditions, Roglič was visibly relieved when he stopped briefly to talk to reporters at the line, and he also made a point of thanking his teammates for their hard work in keeping him in contention.
“It’s all good, it could be a lot worse,” Roglič said afterwards. “The guys did an incredible job bringing me back.”
“I just had super good luck, they hit me in the leg [from behind] and a guy crashed just in front of me,” Roglič, lying fifth overall after stage 4 at 1:12, said as he explained just how close things had been for him.
Roglič avoided the later crash that brought down Evenepoel for a second time and he defined his day with an ironic laugh at how tense the stage had been and a simple but telling phrase: “I’m happy to be here.”
He said had asked Evenepoel how he was after the Belgian’s first crash early on stage 5 and the Belgian had told him he was OK. But that was before the final three crashes in the closing kilometres had once again seen Evenepoel hit the deck and Roglič have his multiple near misses.
Roglič’s comments were perhaps all the more heartfelt given in his previous Grand Tour, the 2022 Vuelta a España, he had been forced to abandon after a bad crash late on a transition stage like Wednesday’s in the Giro left him too injured to continue. But this time, at least, he was much more fortunate.
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