By Jonny Long
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) has revealed he struggled with a stomach ache and soreness after he crashed on stage 15 of the 2019 Giro d'Italia, in what proved to be the beginning of the end of the Slovenian's GC ambitions. He has also blamed his struggle to win the race on the fact that other riders teamed up to race against him.
Although the race didn't end the way the Slovenian would have hoped, after he had dominated the opening two time trials before his form fell away in the final week, Roglič has taken the positives from his highest Grand Tour finish to date.
"I learned a lot at this Giro, and the team did too," he told the Slovenian Press Agency. "I think that we needed this experience for the future. We need to analyse it and learn from the mistakes."
Roglič was also hampered by the loss of two riders who would have been key lieutenants in the mountains. Robert Gesink was ruled out of the race after suffering two fractures at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, whilst Laurens De Plus fell ill during the race and was forced to abandon, which left Roglič isolated.
This allowed the other, stronger squads to team up, with Astana and Bahrain-Merida both utilising their strength in depth in support of Miguel Ángel López and Vincenzo Nibali to stretch Roglič.
"The difference with the other favourites was that I was left alone in the key moments," Roglič said. "And everybody raced against me. That was the difference. Everybody was afraid of me, they all knew I was a problem and they raced so as to prevent me from winning."
Jumbo-Visma sports director Addy Engels said: "I cannot say that we would have won Giro with more support in the mountains, but we would certainly be closer. We would not be losing minutes. But I believe that Primož was good in the hills and mountains."
The 29-year-old, who eventually finished third, taking his podium place back off Mikel Landa (Movistar) in the time trial on the final stage, also said race commissaires were right to give him a 10-second penalty after a spectator gave him a big push and Roglič did nothing to dissuade him.
"It was not OK for us," Roglič said, "but the right decision was made." He did praise the multitude of Slovenian fans, though, who turned out in force to support their home rider on the Croce d'Aune.
"It's funny to think that a small Slovenian can come to Giro and compete with the best," said Roglič, with many Slovenian celebrities also making the trip to Italy to support their countryman. "I'm also happy that Slovenians and their fans have lifted the race to another level. I enjoyed in the exceptional support. Thanks to everybody who came to support us."
The Dutch outfit's squad for the upcoming Tour de France was announced during the second stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, and whilst Laurens De Plus and Wout van Aert will make their Tour debuts, Roglič will not be trying to follow up on his fourth place finish during his first outing at the Tour last year.
Instead, Roglič will be taking some time off, after an early season that also saw him win the overall classification at the Tour de Romandie and Tirreno-Adriatico. His partner also has a baby on the way soon, with Roglič saying: "I would like to have some rest and do things that are not painful".
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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