Wout van Aert is "half human, half motor", according to Primož Roglič, after the Jumbo-Visma pair worked together to deliver the latter to overall victory at Paris-Nice.
Van Aert stayed with Roglič on the final climb, helping him limit his losses to Simon Yates, meaning he won the race overall.
"Wout is super important. Half human, half motor, Wout can do everything," the Slovenian explained after the stage.
"He’s for sure a guy you want to have with you," Roglič continued. "He showed once again that he’s a class rider. I always say that I’m happy and proud that I can learn something from him and ride beside him."
He briefly looked in trouble on the Col d'Èze, as Yates' lead grew to over 25 seconds at points, however the danger quickly passed and the gap stood at just nine seconds at the finish in Nice.
Van Aert said post-stage that it was planned that he would stay as long as possible with his teammate, and be the last man helping him.
The Belgian explained: "I think he was just having difficulties with the attack of Yates and when I saw that, I restarted and forced myself to fight back because I knew the second part of the climb with the headwind it would be really valuable for me to be there, in front.
"From there it was just all out to the finish and trying to come close because we were really on the edge of the time gap that was possible."
Roglič put his difficulty down to wearing too much, in contrast to Yates who said one of the reasons behind his success was staying warm.
"You have some better days, some worse days," the Jumbo-Visma rider said. "I think I put too much clothes on from the very start, I cooked myself. When I took them off I was a bit better, but too late. But good enough to achieve this."
His win at Paris-Nice laid to rest any thoughts of difficulties seeing French stage races home: he did not finish the Critérium du Dauphiné in 2020, despite being in the race lead; he lost the 2020 Tour de France on the penultimate stage; and he crashed on the final stage of Paris-Nice last year, losing control of the race in the process.
"I didn’t really think that I had a problem with France, but all the time something was up," he said. "But finally I managed to win something in France, a stage race. I sign immediately if everything is good immediately in France."
The race was one of Roglič's big targets for the whole year, and he said that this win still feels like the first one, despite his now-storied palmarés.
"It was a goal, and I was coming here maybe not super ready because I had some difficulties starting racing," he said. "It’s crazy. It still feels like the first one. What just happened, and I’m super proud of it, especially as it really is a race with everything.
"You have flat, you have wind, you have small hills, big hills, rain, whatever you say it’s there. You really need to be on the level, and with the whole team, we made it possible. First we made it here, and second we were on the level to deliver it."
Jumbo-Visma won three stages, two with complete podiums, controlled the yellow jersey from start to finish, and also won the green jersey through Van Aert.
"We were dominating from stage one," Roglič told the media. "Like I said, I’m super happy I was able to keep that happening until stage eight. I’m super proud and happy for the team."
As for his next goals, he will race Milan-San Remo next weekend, and he will wait and see if he has the legs to attack on the Poggio, but he will primarily be there to support Van Aert.
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