Primož Roglič says losing the Vuelta a España lead on the first summit finish of the 2021 edition is good for his Jumbo-Visma team.
The defending champion, who led the race after winning Saturday's opening time trial, was content to allow the red jersey to go to stage winner Rein Taaramäe (Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux).
Taaramäe claimed victory from the day's breakaway, finishing 1-48 ahead of the GC group which contained Roglič safely ensconced. The defending champion looked comfortable as attacks were blunted by a strong headwind on the climb to Picón Blanco, much to the frustration of some of his rivals that are already trailing behind.
Roglič now sits third overall, just 30 seconds behind the race leader, but is comfortable allowing the jersey to sit with another team safe in the knowledge the onus to lead the peloton will no longer be on his squad with 18 stages still to come.
“It went well on the road and I'm satisfied,” Roglič said at the finish. “There was a lot of wind on the climb, which even made it a bit cold. Especially after the heat of the last few days, that took some getting used to.
"The fact that we have now lost the jersey is actually good for us. It was a steep and tough climb, but the result doesn't say much yet. There are still many tough stages to come.”
One blow for the Jumbo-Visma team will be the loss of Sepp Kuss from the upper reaches of the general classification. The American, who would have been an even more valuable ally to Roglič if he's maintained his overall position, slipped to 2-40 down on the final climb, having started the day just 15 seconds behind Roglič in the GC. Nonetheless, the team's sports director Grischa Niermann says the day was ultimately a satisfying one for the team as they relinquish the responsibility of carrying the red jersey.
"Primož had a good day, Sepp a much less so," Niermann said.
“We are where we want to be in the standings. It was a great day for us. If we wanted to defend the jersey, we certainly would have.
"Primož agreed that we would hand over the jersey. It may sound a bit strange, but we are still satisfied even though we have lost the leader's jersey."
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1