Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) said he did “a nice time trial.” Bit of an understatement there — it was an extremely freaking excellent time trial.
The Slovenian won his fourth stage of this Vuelta a Espana, erased a ten second deficit to race leader Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadier) and then gained an additional 39 seconds to put himself back in the red jersey.
Really, really nice day.
“It’s beautiful eh,” said Roglič after the stage. “It’s nice – it was a long time since I won a time trial – it’s a super nice day. I feel strong – surprisingly. I thought I would suffer a lot more, but I went quite fine and it was quite good.”
Starting in the coastal town of Muros, Roglic began with a steady pace for the first 30 kilometers of largely flat road before turning up the power on the 1.8 kilometer Mirador de Ézaro climb. The average gradient is 14.2 per cent and that is where Roglic separated himself from Carapaz and an impressive Hugh Carthy (EF Education First).
When the clock stopped at 46:39, Roglic had beaten young Will Barta (CCC) by a mere second. The poor kid was one tick from his first WorldTour victory — and maybe a new contract for next year. Much more importantly, Roglic bested Carthy by 25 seconds and Carapaz by 49 seconds.
Roglic went into the time trial as the clear favorite but that was also the case in the Tour de France where he lost the time trial and the yellow jersey to eventual winner Tadej Pogacar.
“Everyone said you will take time – but we all start on the same time from zero. We all know it’s not really a fun thing to do a time trial but today I had the legs and I could do a nice time trial,” He said.
You could grade how hard the Mirador de Ézaro climb by using the Grimace Factor, from pained to impassive. Hugh Carthy’s face showed the full agony and Carapaz gritted his teeth while Roglic looked as relaxed as a man could be given the anaerobic torture.
Critics who believed Roglic might fade in the third week of this grand tour were proven wrong. He plans to be wearing red all the way to Madrid. “It’s better [to be] 39 in front than 39 behind. We need to keep the focus, the guys are really strong and we will fight for it,” said Roglic.
After all, it was a pretty nice time trial.