For someone accused of being robotic as often as Primož Roglič is, the Slovenian certainly finds himself at the centre of drama more often than that label would justify.
The 2020 Tour de France time trial saga, the irrational accusations of not working hard enough for Wout van Aert at the Imola Worlds, sneaking to the win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège after Julian Alaphilippe’s early celebration, and that was all before Paris-Nice 2021.
The Jumbo-Visma rider caused further consternation when he crossed the finish line ahead of the young Gino Mäder (Bahrain-Victorious) to take his third stage and stretch his GC lead to nearly one minute. Worse than the never-ending discussion of whether it was the right thing to do were phrases such as ‘that’s bike racing’ rising up from their clichéd depths.
But it turns out Roglič needed those extra bonus seconds on the line, and many more of them, as he plummeted out of yellow jersey contention on the final stage eight, crashing twice and the second fall seeing him dislodged from the peloton. He eventually finished three minutes in arrears as Bora-Hansgrohe turbo-charged the pace of the peloton to leave Roglič willing the finish line into view in order to put him out of his misery.
Roglič, who seems to have developed an impervious ability to be unaffected by setbacks such as these, will take the rough with the smooth, likely unmoved by those hypocritically cruel enough to describe the Slovenian’s misfortune as karma for his stage seven win.
As for Max Schachmann, the German snatches the overall victory from the jaws of defeat – otherwise known as second place – the Bora-Hansgrohe man not daring to have believed he could have made up the 52-second deficit over just 90km at the start of the final day of racing.
“No, definitely not, it was a crazy day,” Schachmann said after the finish. “I’m having mixed feelings, it feels strange because Roglič crashed twice, I think this was his mistake.”
As for whether Bora-Hansgrohe were entitled to race when Roglič was in difficulty, Schachmann says the race was very much on at the point regardless, and anyway, they’d already waited for the race leader once that day, a courtesy not afforded to him when he’d punctured early on.
“I had a puncture in the beginning just before the first climb and nobody was waiting and had to go really deep to get back,” he said. “Then Primož crashed and we waited for him, it was very dangerous on the descent and suddenly he crashed again but we had a strong breakaway [up ahead] and we were going for the stage victory and it was so strong… I don’t know if I can be happy…it’s not nice to win like that, it’s very difficult.”
As for defending his title, Schachmann becomes the first rider to do so since Alexandre Vinokourov in 2003.
“It was a goal to defend it and suddenly I’m here on the last day in the yellow jersey,” Schachmann said, still waiting for it to sink in. “I don’t know what to say.”