Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) lost 40 seconds to Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar) and his other overall rivals at the Giro d’Italia on Sunday after a comedy of errors in the finale of stage 15 to Como.
Roglic was isolated in the hills that are used for the finale of Il Lombardia and then sparked a series of errors that would cost him time, leave him with a swollen and bloody cheek and see him lose his usual self-control.
Roglic’s problems started when he dropped back to his Jumbo-Visma team car with 20km to go to grab bidons. His directeur sportif then decided to stop to take a natural break and so was not there when Roglic needed to swap bikes due an apparent problem with his gears.
Roglic took teammate Antwan Tolhoek’s bike and chased after the lead group, but then he was distanced on the final Civiglio climb when Nibali and Carapaz attacked. As Roglic tried to chase on the descent, he crashed into the barriers while exiting a curve, scraping his left cheek and suffering other minor injuries. He got up and chased all the way to the finish in Como but lost 40 seconds to his big rivals.
Roglic’s sense of total control and sphinx-like mask had slipped, and the Giro d’Italia was suddenly wide open again.
“It’s not the best but also not the worst, so at the end, I'm happy with it,” Roglic said after being treated by the Jumbo-Visma team doctor on the bus and reassuring some family and friends that he was OK.
“I'm bleeding the most here from the face, but it's not so hard, luckily I don't pedal so much with the face.”
He explained what happened.
“I had a problem with a broken front shifter, so I needed to change the bike. Then I actually didn't have my bike [on the Civiglio] and so everything is a little different and I was a little too fast in the corner.”
Roglic did not seem overly concerned about being distanced by Nibali and Carapaz on the steep slopes of the Civiglio.
“They went good, but they weren't so much in front at the top of the climb, so what can I say, it's still a long race to go. Yeah, it's true, I lost some time, but like I said, it's still some day to go. I'm OK, I'm happy that I finished the stage and now I'm looking forward to tomorrow's rest day!”
Lost a battle but not the war
The Jumbo-Visma team management struggled to be as upbeat and optimistic about the stage and new time gaps in the general classification.
“We’ve lost a battle, but I think were still in the war,” ashen-faced directeur sportif Addy Engels explained at the team bus.
Engels confessed to his own errors in the chaotic finale on the road to Como.
“It happened after the descent, along the lake. We supplied him with a few bottles and we needed quick break to take a pee. The moment we got into the car, I don’t know what happened, but we heard on the radio that he needed a new bike. In terms of timing and bad luck, it was the worst that could happen.
“Luckily at that moment, Antwan’s group was coming back and he was able to change bikes. Luckily, he has almost the same position. But it was a lot of stress and a lot going on. He had to chase back, which cost energy. We discussed changing to his own bike, but with the speed they were doing it was impossible and he said it was OK.
“In the crash it looks like he was risking too much and just going a little too fast," Engels said.
Carapaz now leads Roglic by 47 seconds, with Nibali third at 1:47. Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) is fourth at 2:35, with Mikel Landa (Movistar) at 3:15. The second rest day has perhaps come at a perfect time, but the final week in the mountains remains before the last-day Verona time trial.
“This morning we we’re in a good position and ready to follow. Now we have to see the damage and if he’s OK or not,” Engels admitted.
“We’re more or less of one minute ahead of Nibali, so he still has to catch up and he’s about 47 second down on Carapaz, it’s difficult to predict how much time you can make up in a time trial, but it’s going close be to the limit. But I think everything is still playable in the time trial.”