The Tour de France’s new yellow jersey is a bit of an enigma.
Since Primož Roglič began his WorldTour career with Jumbo-Visma in 2016, the line about him being a former ski jumper has been overplayed, and the rise of Slovenia as a cycling nation was announced by his Vuelta a España victory alongside compatriot Tadej Pogačar’s (UAE Team Emirates) third place.
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Having taken stage wins at all three Grand Tours, he has now completed his set of leader’s jerseys after replacing Adam Yates atop the GC at the 2020 French Grand Tour ahead of the first rest day.
He arrived for the Grand Départ in Nice as one of two Jumbo-Visma team leaders, Steven Kruijswijk left at home through injury, and by the time the race arrived in the Pyrenees, all of Jumbo-Visma’s eggs were in the Roglič basket, Tom Dumoulin deciding he didn’t have the legs and rode on the front to set things up for the Slovenian.
All of Jumbo-Visma’s hard work on the first big mountain day failed to pay off, though, as Pogačar attacked and gapped his GC rivals, halving the deficit he accrued in the crosswinds when he crossed the line.
Jumbo-Visma seemed rocked after that stage, rueing their missteps and asking themselves what went wrong.
But the morning after, Primož Roglič rolled off the stage from the team presentation and into the mixed zone with a smile on his face, something we’re not necessarily accustomed to seeing from the seemingly dispassionate Slovenian.
Making his way up to a Dutch journalist, who presumably he’s become familiar with in his four years in the yellow of the nation’s top tier team, Roglič was relaxed and bantering as best as both parties could in second languages.
“What happened yesterday?” came the first question.
“I was not fast enough uphill so luckily I was fast enough downhill,” Roglič laughed, a rare moment of self-deprecation and insight beyond the bare minimum of thanking his team-mates for their work.
“We had some small things to improve with maybe just communication during the race,” Roglič said of the stage eight misfires, “Pogačar did a really strong effort, no one could follow, it doesn’t matter, we showed as a team we are strong and we can be confident.”
The very next day Jumbo-Visma hit the front, and this time Roglič could follow Pogačar, losing to him in the sprint but taking the yellow jersey.
“Everyone is waiting to wear the yellow jersey one time in their life,” Roglič said after moving into the race lead.
“We see it’s always a fight for every second, I’m really happy the position I’m in at the moment, given how things are. Still, a lot of things will happen until we arrive in Paris.
“We’ve definitely seen the strongest riders now, no-one could really go as hard, but like I said these are just the first nine days, still quite a lot of days to come but we’ll see how it goes, but for now we can enjoy a well-deserved rest day.”
All of Roglič’s 21-second lead over Egan Bernal have come from bonus seconds, the two riders so far neck-and-neck, with Pogačar a further 23 seconds back and two Frenchmen (Romain Bardet and Guillaume Martin) and two Colombians (Nairo Quintana and Rigoberto Urán) lying in between.
Two flat days after the rest day then progress into two punchier days before the likely next scene of the GC battle – the Grand Colombier.