'I don't care who I'm against, if it's Tadej or Bernal': Primož Roglič returns to Vuelta a España once again with point to prove

The Slovenian returns to Grand Tour racing with an Olympic gold medal, aiming to win his third Spanish Grand Tour in a row

Primož Roglič
(Image credit: Getty)

Another pre-Grand Tour training camp in Tignes, the spot where their last one unrivalled, and again Primož Roglič arrives at the upcoming Vuelta a España with a point to prove as he looks to win a third consecutive title.

The Slovenian has acquired an Olympic gold medal in between his Tour de France disappointment and touching down in Burgos, forced out with injury before the start of stage nine which made its way up to his usual Alpine base and hasn't had to wait too long for the next three-week stage race to try put things right.

"First celebrating and trying to realise and enjoy what we achieved with the Olympic title. Then the last days or week I was trying to be as good as possible, trying to get ready for the start of the Vuelta," is how Roglič describes his transition from Tokyo back to European roads, having only decided to compete in Japan two days before getting on his flight east.

"We will see," he adds of his expectation of this upcoming Grand Tour, candid as ever. "I think we'll know after a couple of days or at least at the end of it. I've done everything I can, I feel confident, we're here with a strong team. We have to go out there and try to have fun."

July was the first time in his career that Roglič has abandoned a Grand Tour and says he had some psychological help to deal with the disappointment of being forced out of his season's main objective. Previously, he's finished inside the top four on five out of eight appearances at the three biggest stage races on the calendar, and it's therefore a surprise to literally no-one that he has the sole team leadership once again after previous dalliances with sharing it between him, Steven Kruijswijk and Tom Dumoulin.

>>> Egan Bernal says winning all three Grand Tours is the 'biggest goal in my career now'

"Yes for sure I did," Roglič says of whether he received psychological help following the Tour. "It's a part of it, a part of cycling and a part of life, you go up, you go down, the most important is just to keep moving, try to follow that. Now I'm here and definitely I will do my best at this Vuelta."

The 31-year-old is more concerned with how to approach the race, having not reconned any of the climbs, than rivals, with Ineos Grenadiers bringing a stacked line-up, featuring both Egan Bernal and Richard Carapaz.

"I'm more worried about the question of how to approach [the race] day-by-day," he said. "How with the team we don't make mistakes. For sure Egan is a super strong rider, but for sure there are more, it will definitely be a big fight with all of us all the way to the end.

"I don't care who I'm going against, if it's Tadej or Bernal, or Richie [Carapaz], so many guys who are super strong and capable of winning it. It's stupid to think about it, just got to focus on myself."

Jumbo-Visma at the 2021 Vuelta a España

(Image credit: Getty)

Another thing he's not concerning himself with is the thought of three wins in a row.

"I don't even think about it, it doesn't help me. I'm more worried about present things, the challenges that are coming. If we keep the focus on the important things, you also need luck, if we have that it will come and it will be good. We're trying to keep focused.

"If you're good it suits you well, on the first look I had it looks super difficult, really tricky first week and then the second week is more manageable and the last one is a big, big challenge. Stage-by-stage, any can be a decisive one. It's definitely one of the hardest weeks that there has been. It's an exciting Vuelta for all the fans."

As for the rest of the Jumbo-Visma squad, Sepp Kuss and Steven Kruijswijk will be afforded a free role, while Sam Oomen, Robert Gesink, Lennard Hofstede, Koen Bouwman and Nathan Van Hooydonck will all be enlisted to help deliver the red jersey once again into the arms of the Dutch team.

“We have a very strong team. Sepp and Steven have a free role," sports director Girscha Niermann explained. "Sam, Koen, Lennard and Robert are our men for the mountains, while Nathan is the most important link on the flat. The whole team will support and protect our leader Primoz. We are looking forward to the start in Burgos."

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