Primož Roglič rolled straight through the finish area on Ortona’s Via della Libertà without a second glance for the television crews trying to flag him down. He had just lost 46 seconds to Remco Evenepoel in the opening time trial of the Giro d’Italia. The clock had already said plenty. What more could he add?
Still, it would be remiss not to hear the thoughts of the joint-favourite for the Giro after a setback like this, and so a troupe of reporters set off jogging in pursuit of Roglič. Fortunately for them, the Slovenian’s knowledge of the back streets of Ortona was as ropey as theirs, and he had to stop by a crash barrier to seek directions to his team van from a Jumbo-Visma soigneur.
By the time Roglič had memorised the route – “Just before the roundabout, to the right for about 400 or 500 metres” – a forest of microphones had sprouted up all around him. He would doubtless have preferred to have slipped away without a word, but he’s been at this game long enough to realise throwing a bone here would probably prevent this same group from laying siege to his team van further down the road.
“Ah, it was hard, but now it’s behind, so I’m happy,” Roglič said with a gentle laugh when the first question was lobbed in his direction.
Another question about his sensations in this, his first race in over a month, was met with an equally amiable reply. “Oh, actually good,” he said. “I’m super happy. I’m optimistic for the upcoming days.”
And yet Roglič could only manage sixth on the stage, some 43 seconds down on Evenepoel, who was in a league entirely of his own on the Costa dei Trabocchi. At last year’s Vuelta, Roglič coughed up a similar deficit – 48 seconds – to Evenepoel in the time trial to Alicante, but that stage was rather longer, at 30.9km.
In other words, after beating Evenepoel in four of their first five time trial meetings over the years, Roglič has now lost the last two by increasing margins. After limiting his losses to 1.55 seconds per kilometre at last year’s Vuelta, Roglič conceded 2.19 seconds per kilometre here – a worrying trend with next weekend’s 35km test to Cesena in mind.
“Ha. I mean, it was for me just to do my best. I did and I’m happy about it,” Roglič said when asked about Evenepoel’s stratospheric performance here.
At the Volta a Catalunya last month, the pair were involved in a high-calibre duel where, in the absence of any time trials, Roglič’s superior…
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