Primož Roglič has said he considers himself the big favourite for the Tour de France, having won his first Grand Tour in 2019 at the Vuelta a España and ending the year as the top-ranked UCI rider.
While Jumbo-Visma announced in December they would be heading to the French Grand Tour with three leaders in Roglič, Tom Dumoulin and Steven Kruijswijk, the Slovenian fancies his chances at being the strongest on the road.
When asked whether he considers himself the big favourite for the three-week stage race by ciclo21, Roglič replies with his characteristic directness: "Yes".
Usually, riders with a good chance of taking the yellow jersey want to dismiss any notion they have what it takes to reduce the pressure, but Roglič seems to welcome it.
"You already know what I mean. The best rider will win," he says. "We are all going to fight to get it and, if you look at my results from the last few seasons, you will see that I have won a few races. Therefore, I see no reason not to be optimistic."
The 30-year-old has only raced five Grand Tours during his career, his first being in 2016 and his first top 10 finish coming at the 2018 Tour de France. Roglič doesn't feel that success has come too quickly, though, and that his fast rise up the pecking order has had a structure. Winning one-week stage races such as the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour de Romandie before making his assault on the Grand Tours.
"It is true that things are going fast, but I have not skipped any steps in my evolution," Roglicč said. "First, I won a one week race. When I got it, I went for some more. Later, I faced the three-week tests...everything has gone step-by-step so I don't have the feeling of having suddenly arrived and getting on the podium at a Grand Tour."
Reflecting on his Vuelta win, Roglič admits the weight of wearing the leader's jersey and the subsequent attention that comes from that can be draining and detract from the task at hand.
"I recognize that everything extra to the bicycle was too much. Honestly, cyclists want to have the least possible contact with the press," Roglič said. "Today, for example, is my day of rest. I work hard every day in training. I kill myself on the bike. Therefore, I would like to rest today, but I have to be from morning to night with interviews and events.
"Of course, there are days when I feel more stressed, but it all depends on how you handle it. The same happens in all paths of life. Actually, cycling is only a very small part of my life.
"It's just cycling! I have not been a cyclist since the day I was born and I hope to live a few more years and, therefore, I hope not to be a cyclist until the day of my death."
While Roglič can already see life after the peloton in the distance, for now he has a few more years in his prime where he will expect and be expected to challenge for further Grand Tour victories.
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1