Many fans were heartbroken watching Gino Mäder get caught in the final few metres of stage seven at Paris-Nice, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) surging past to take his third stage of the race as he closes in on the overall victory, but it likely pales in comparison with how the 24-year-old Swiss and his Bahrain-Victorious team were feeling.
The finale also led to the question – should Roglič have let Mäder win?
“My team worked hard all day and I saw an opportunity to win, so I thought: why not?” Roglič said after the stage, a position backed up by his team-mate Jos van Emden.
“So you think I work my ass off so he can give presents?” the Dutchman said. “I never got a TT victory as a present after having the fastest intermediate time.
“Feeling for the rider who comes second is different from blaming the winner. I damn know what a second place means, have a look at how many times I got second and I don’t blame anyone.”
Mäder was in agreement, more concerned with his own performance than the fact he was beaten.
“It’s an easy scenario. First over the line wins. I just need to get there faster,” Mäder said. “Nothing was believed [to be] safe…for three seconds I thought it could be something. Then my legs fell asleep and Roglič passed me like an airplane…chapeau Roglič.
“But a win is only really nice if you were the strongest. A free win would never feel right. It’s part of the business. See the good of it and use it as motivation.”
2013 Vuelta a España winner Chris Horner had another view, saying that regardless of whether it was right for Roglič to gift the win, it would have been in his interest to do so, creating a favour that could be cashed in further down the road, especially with Roglič’s main goal this season being the Tour de France in July.
“Ugly win in my book,” the American said. “This is his third win at Paris-Nice, I know some people at home will be like ‘a win’s a win, you’ve got to go out there and get everything’ guys…that’s not how it works in the professional peloton. You want friends, bad things can happen to you at any moment.”