By Jonny Long published
People often wonder what exactly it takes to become one of the very best cyclists in the world, and Jumbo-Visma sports director Grischa Niermann gave us an insight into what separates Primož Roglič from the rest.
Less than 15 hours after crossing the finish line in Arrete to take the overall victory at the Tour of the Basque Country, Roglič was already in France for a recon of the stage 20 time trial course at July's upcoming Tour de France.
As pointed out by Ammattipyorailly on Twitter, the distance from Eibar, the finish of stage six, to Libourne, the start town of the penultimate stage of the Tour, is 330km, meaning a quick turnaround was needed to get Roglič back out on French roads at eight o'clock on a Sunday morning.
"There are no secrets...work, work work," commented one fan underneath the photo.
Of course, at last year's Tour de France Roglič was on the verge of taking the yellow jersey onto the Champs-Élysées before the stage 20 individual time trial up to La Planche des Belles Filles, where the Slovenian surrendered the race lead to Tadej Pogačar after the UAE Team Emirates youngster put in a performance for the ages against the clock.
While Roglič got the better of the younger Slovenian in the time trial at this week's Tour of the Basque Country, beating him by 28 seconds in Bilbao, the Jumbo-Visma rider won't want to leave anything to chance as he looks at another yellow jersey tilt this July.
The 2021 stage 20 TT course doesn't feature a big climb like in 2020, but the 31km-long course still offers up the chance for GC movement on the penultimate day in France.
One recon wasn't enough, however, as Roglič hopped back in the car to head 480km north to ride the stage five time trial course. The 27km couse is the first of the two TT stages at this year's Tour and comes after the opening four stages in Brittany.
Jumbo-Visma's tactics in the Basque Country had been questioned, after they forfeited the overall lead to Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) on the second to last stage, but Roglič came good as he stole a march up the road alongside Hugh Carthy (EF-Nippo) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) on stage six, the American cracking and his team-mate Pogačar left to helplessly look on from a chase group unwilling to drag him back up to the front.
"Not everyone understood our tactic in the past week, but afterwards it turns out that it was the right tactic," Niermann said after the race. "Today we have once again proven that we have more to offer than just controlling the race. We close this week with an excellent feeling."
Roglič will next line up at the Amstel Gold Race next weekend, followed by Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Then, the 31-year-old will build up to the Critérium du Dauphiné in preparation for the French Grand Tour.
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.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and 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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