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That elusive Tour de France title is needed if Primož Roglič ideas to be remembered as 1 of the greats

Words and phrases: Joe Robinson Pictures: Chris Auld

‘Did you know Primož Roglič used to be a ski jumper?’ Easily the most weary cliché in skilled cycling in excess of the previous several yrs. Conveniently eclipsing fellow favourites this kind of as ‘Andre Greipel climbs well for a large man’ and ‘Geraint Thomas has crashed’.

This sort of is the continuous reminder of the Jumbo-Visma man’s wintertime athletics past, he has even received in on the joke, incorporating a ski bounce landing into his victory celebration. Not really Alberto Contador’s cigarette smoking pistols but we positive have witnessed it an awful good deal over the past number of decades, haven’t we?

But, honestly, did you know that Roglič was a ski jumper right up until the age of 21? Due to the fact it definitely hardly ever will get any fewer crazy. 10 a long time in the past, Roglič was flying off the stop of ski jumps all throughout Europe. Now he is traveling up mountains, dominating an entirely various sport. In 2011, Roglič experienced cycled much less than 3,000km in his whole daily life. Considering the fact that the 14th August, he has ticked off 3,417km in what was, let us be honest, a 21-day victory lap of Spain and his third consecutive Vuelta a España title.

From victory on the opening day’s time-trial in Burgos, Roglič was in total control of this year’s race. 4 phase wins, four additional next-place stage finishes, 11 times in the red jersey are spectacular but the way in which he won the race is what seriously experienced us amazed. At no stage did the 31-12 months-outdated search out of command. Not as soon as did you at any time question Roglič’s asphyxiating grip on the race. Whenever a rival attacked, he was there, glued to their wheel. And then, when the time was right, he would only trip off on his have. It was exceptional.

On paper, this should really have been his hardest Vuelta so significantly. Ineos Grenadiers had Egan Bernal and Adam Yates, Movistar experienced Enric Mas and Miguel Ángel López, Bahrain Victorious with Mikel Landa, Jack Haig, Gino Mäder. In fact, it turned out to be his most at ease victory of the 3.

This most current victory at a phase race carries on what has efficiently been a four-period extensive domination of the discipline. Considering the fact that using the all round victory at Itzulia Basque Place in 2018, Roglič has concluded 16 phase races. He has won 11 of them. His report in the very last 6 Grand Tours he has raced goes as follows: 4th, 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st. This is consistency of Merckxian proportions.

Roglič is the most effective stage racer in the earth correct now and there is a sturdy argument for the Slovenian staying the best bicycle owner in the entire world, interval. Roglič’s third consecutive Vuelta is also a feat that is as uncommon as an FSA groupset.

Only 9 riders have ever gained Grand Tours in 3 consecutive seasons. Only two have taken the Vuelta three-peat – Tony Rominger and Robero Heras. This must be lauded as one particular of cycling’s excellent achievements, legacy-guaranteeing from the most effective phase racer of his era.

But there is an situation. In our sport of biking, not all races are equivalent. Each are Monuments but we would be lying to say a Liège–Bastogne–Liège win was held in the same regard as a Paris-Roubaix victory. And whilst amazing, successful the Vuelta a España is no Tour de France. In fact, not even three consecutive Vueltas are 1 Tour.

It really is severe but accurate. That is not to say three weeks of racing all around Spain is a walk in the park. It is stiflingly very hot, it comes at the end of a extended period, the mountains that consistently attribute are so hard they border on office bullying. Discuss to those that have raced both equally and a lot will even convey to you the Vuelta outdoes the Tour on the toughness scale. But crimson just is not yellow.

Aitor González, Chris Horner and Fabio Aru are just not Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans or Geraint Thomas. Alex Zülle’s two Vuelta titles do not trump Bradley Wiggins’s a single Tour gain. And Roglič’s Vuelta hattrick does not hit the way standing on the Champs-Élysées dressed in yellow does.

The journey of turning from ski jumper to bicycle owner in his 20s to becoming a WorldTour pro in considerably less than 5 several years to getting to be a triple Grand Tour winner in ten really should be regarded as one particular of the sport’s great stories. But retire tomorrow and Roglič’s successes will soon grow to be a footnote in the sport alternatively than its individual chapter.

In truth, retire tomorrow and there will be these who try to remember Roglič exclusively for a person of the incredibly couple of failures he has endured in cycling, ironically at the Tour in 2020 when he went from nailed-on champion to meme in 36.2kms from Entice to La Planche des Belles Filles. For Roglič to enter the annals of biking history, he requirements to acquire that yellow. To sit along with Evans, Schleck, Wiggins and, most prevalently, his compatriot Tadej Pogačar, victory at the Tour is a need to have, not a nice to have.

Earn that Tour and we all claim to be on the lookout at a person of the all-time greats. Do not and Roglič continues to be the guy who was when a ski-jumper, did not you know?