Could Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) become the first rider in nearly 30 years to lead the Giro d’Italia from start to finish? Some insiders say so given “he is on a different level” in this 2019 edition.
The Slovenian came to the Giro d’Italia in Bologna a hot favourite. He won all three races he entered this 2019 season: the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie. All three stage races are WorldTour races.
From the gun, he showed he is serious about his plans to win his first Grand Tour. On stage one Saturday, he won the opening eight-kilometre time trial with the uphill finish at San Luca.
“I reckon he can [do it] actually,” Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) told Cycling Weekly when asked if it was possible
“He is on a different level at the moment and his team is so strong. It will be difficult to give the jersey away because he is such a big advantage.”
Roglič, the 29-year-old who placed fourth in the 2018 Tour de France, leads Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) by 19 seconds. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) sits third at 23 seconds and Miguel Ángel López (Team Astana) and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) sit at 28 seconds.
It will be hard for him to lose the jersey unless he sits up or crashes over the next week and a half. The first mountain stage is not until stage 13 to Lago Serrù. Stage nine is a 34.8-kilometre time trial, another stage in Roglič’s favour.
“Yeah he is definitely strong enough but you have to see how everything plays out,” said Roglič’s American team-mate Sepp Kuss.
“Yes it’s possible,” added Florian Senechal (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). “We have a second time trial coming and he rides strongly in time trials. He is also a strong man on the climbs. It is possible that he could stay in jersey and lead the classification for three weeks.”
Only four riders have led the race from start to finish, the last was Gianni Bugno in 1990. Eddy Merckx did so in 1973, Alfredo Binda did in 1925 and Costante Girardengo in 1919.
“I think that if there’s a rider here who is capable of it then it is him,” said sprinter Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal). “He really put some time into his rivals in such a short time trial. That was quite impressive but I think he will have quite a challenge along the way with the high-calibre field here.
“I couldn’t imagine doing it, no, but I think a rider like him can imagine it and it’s going to be interesting race.”
“The pink jersey everyday is also stressful,” Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) added. “Because everyday and there’s a few hours to be on the podium and in anti-doping and press conferences. I don’t know if he wants to do that.
“And in modern cycling every minute you recover, the more the better it is in grand tours. We’ll see what the tactic is for Jumbo-Visma but I think he can do it.”
Teams will sometimes let the lead jersey go to not have to spend the energy to defend it in the early stages. Jumbo-Visma may try to do so, the team said that its strategy is to keep it but not try to defend it any cost.
“Not in this day and age and it would be stupid if he did,” Mark Renshaw (Dimension Data) said when asked.
“I would imagine they want to get rid of it as soon as they can and save the guys for later.”