Wout van Aert has expressed disappointment at the criticism faced by his Jumbo-Visma team-mate Primož Roglič following the Belgian’s failed bid for the rainbow jersey at the 2020 Worlds.
Julian Alaphilippe evaded a chase group of five on the closing Imola race track circuit, with the likes of Jakob Fuglsang, Michał Kwiatkowski and Marc Hirschi unwilling to give their all and pull the Frenchman back just for Van Aert to outsprint them in the dash for the line.
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Belgian media has been particularly critical of Roglič’s inability to offer more in the pursuit of Alaphilippe, given Van Aert’s efforts in the Slovenian’s failed bid for the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, with Sporza uploading a video titled ‘the work that Roglič does (not) do for Van Aert at the World Championships’.
After returning home to Belgium, Van Aert has once again defended his team-mate from the criticism, saying Roglič couldn’t have done more and was riding on the limit.
“I think it’s a shame that there is so much commotion around it,” Van Aert told Sporza. “Primož really did his best. I saw that myself and I can therefore judge it best.”
While riders are organised in national teams at the World Championships, trade outfit alliances aren’t uncommon, with riders unlikely to ride against their regular team-mates, at the very least.
“Primoz rode on the limit, he could not have been better,” Van Aert continued. “After seven hours of racing it is not always a question of wanting, but also of being able to. I certainly think Primož wanted me [to win] but he was just as exhausted as the rest of the group.”
Roglič has also said his tank was empty at the end of a gruelling 258km race and that of course he would rather his team-mate would be wearing the rainbow bands for the next 12 months.
“I would rather have Wout become champion than Alaphilippe,” Roglič told Flanders television station VTM. “But I was at my limit. I couldn’t even sprint anymore. Those four other riders were all stronger than me. I had to close a hole after every corner. I gave everything I had.”
“I would now also ask you to stop talking about it,” Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Iljo Keisse tweeted Sporza.
“Ever found yourself in a situation where you simply cannot do better? Roglič was still just hanging on to it but simply had no legs after a grueling Tour and tough World Championships.”