The big challenge for Primoz Roglic at the start of the 76th edition of La Vuelta is to become the third rider to put his name three times in a row on the list of La Vuelta winners, after Tony Rominger (1992-1994) and Roberto Heras (2003-2005).
Among the starters of La Vuelta 21, Primoz Roglic is only 51st in terms of Grand Tour experience. With eight participations, four in the Tour de France, two in the Giro and two in La Vuelta, the Slovenian is obviously very far from the ‘s 29 starts, making him the absolute leader ahead of his compatriots Imanol Erviti (26),Luis León Sánchez (25), Mikel Nieve (21) and Dani Navarro (20). But since his WorldTour debut in 2016, he has already spent 41 days leading the Tour, Giro and La Vuelta.
This is far more than Valverde’s 27, 13 of which happened on the way to his only overall victory, at La Vuelta 2009. In other words, Roglic, despite his late arrival in cycling after a first sporting career in ski jumping, is very much used to attending protocol ceremonies and post-stage press conferences!
At the 2019 Giro and the 2020 Tour, he looked like a potential winner on the road but he had, for various reasons, to settle with 3rd and 2nd places. On the other hand, he is undefeated at La Vuelta! On both occasions, he secured his position at the top of the standings by means of a time-trial – in and in -, .
The race for Yellow Jersey has anchored in some minds that he was vulnerable in the solitary effort, but we must now salute his presence in the Spanish Grand Tour as that of the Olympic champion of the discipline, winner in Tokyo with more than a minute margin (over 44.2km) on four absolute experts, who either claimed World or European Champion titles: Tom Dumoulin, Rohan Dennis, Stefan Küng and Filippo Ganna!
He therefore shows a wide smile at the start on Burgos, as the event begins and ends with a time trial, in the shade of the cathedrals. With Roglic, however, you can never be sure of anything, even if Spain seems to smile more on him than France or Italy (he has also won the twice, in 2018 and 2021).
He is the number 1 favorite to succeed himself but he has the bad habit of regularly experiencing misadventures in stage races that he seems to dominate: ill at the approach of the last week of the Giro 2019, DNS following a crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné 2020 when he was leading the general classification on the morning of the last stage, before the concluding time-trial of the Tour de France 2020, dropped from first place to fifteenth in Paris-Nice 2021 following another crash during the last stage.
It was yet another accident (stage 3) that forced him to retire from the recent Tour de France (DNS ahead of stage 9).
“Primoz Roglic is the king of suspense in stage races, but we are especially delighted to see him again because of his loyalty towards La Vuelta”, said Javier Guillén, general manager of the event.
“You can tell from his attitude that he loves our race and our country. The type of course we offer suits him and what is remarkable about him is his intact motivation in the latter part of the season, every year. Maybe he enjoys his job even more than other riders because he came to cycling late. Following the Olympics, he seems even more fit than he was the previous two years. In any case, this time he’s riding for a record of three consecutive wins that will thrill the aficionados. And as the opposition is very exciting, it promises some great fights with the pure climbers who will have to contend throughout the race with Roglic’s talents for the 33.8km time-trial on the last day.” – www.lavuelta.es