Jumbo-Visma limited their losses on a fraught opening team time trial in the Vuelta a España on Saturday evening despite Jonas Vingegaard needing a mid-stage bike change and some unexpectedly rough racing conditions.
Co-leaders Primož Roglič and Vingegaard came through the opening challenge with a 26-second collective time loss for their team to Soudal-QuickStep, and a 12-second gap on Ineos Grenadiers. They were, however, five seconds faster than another key GC team, UAE Team Emirates.
On a day when many teams opted for a cautious approach given the dark and rain, and amidst multiple criticisms of the perils of the course, Roglič took acharacteristically phlegmatic attitude to his own and his team’s results.
“I have had quite a lot of experience in the rain in different kinds of time trials and this was a different kind of challenge,” he told reporters afterwards. “It was all about trying to keep control.”
“In a team time trial, it’s not just about power and aerodynamics, you need to work hard as a team all together and I have to say I was happy with how the guys raced.”
Asked if he had had problems with the rain, he said, “Not much. At the start ramp where they cleaning away the rain, it was like in the past when I did ski jumping when it snowed and they were also cleaning the snow away. That part was actually quite cool.”
Jumbo-Visma have had some very mixed experiences in Vuelta team time trials. In 2022, they won on home soil in the Netherlands and in 2019 they suffered a bad crash when a child’s swimming pool burst and leaked water onto part of the course. On this occasion, with the water coming in rather larger quantities and out of the sky rather than out of a back garden, they finished somewhere in the middle.
“The biggest problem was when Jonas had bike issue and we had to wait,” teammate Jan Tratnik added “From my point of view the challenge was everything – rain, visibility, corner judging.”
“But we’re bike riders and we have to race, so that’s it.”
Roglič agreed that the team time trialling practice had helped a great deal, but as he pointed out, there was only a certain amount that a team can control.
“Of course, we did a lot better thanks to all the information, but it’s always hard to predict how things go and who is where. But we went full on, and now it’s onto the next one.”