Roglic gains time on Tour de France GC rivals

'If I can, then I will always try' says LottoNL-Jumbo rider

It was a tale of two races in Mende on stage 14 of the Tour de France, with Omar Fraile (Astana) taking the stage win, while Primoz Roglic took the victory in the daily general classification battle.

Roglic has maintained a watching brief during this year’s Tour de France, testing his level, finding his form and sizing up his rivals. The LottoNL-Jumbo rider made his first serious attack of this year’s race on the Cote de la Croix Nueve, the final climb of the day.

Roglic’s attack put several of the GC contenders in trouble, including Movistar’s Mikel Landa and, later, Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale). Team Sky rallied behind him, but they were not able to pull back the former ski jumper who put eight seconds into each of the top three, with others, including his teammate Steven Kruijswijk, losing even more.

“For me, personally, I like to race. If I can, then I will try,” Roglic said as he warmed down on the airstrip at the Aerodrome de Mende-Brenoux. “We all know Sky can do it. They have a lot of strong guys so they can do it a little more easily and control things, but why not? If I can, then I will always try, and in the end, it was OK.

“It’s not much, but gaining eight seconds is better than losing eight seconds. I’m looking forward and I try to stay focused day by day.”

Roglic sits in fourth place overall following the earlier abandon of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) after he crashed heavily on the Alpe d’Huez on stage 12. Having given away 13 precious seconds on the Alpe - plus the 10 bonus seconds that overall leader Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) got for winning the stage - Roglic has claimed back almost half of it in the one move.

The Slovenian is now 2:38 back on the yellow jersey and 48 seconds off the podium. With several hard days to come in the Pyrenees next week, Roglic refuses to get carried away with ideas of making the podium, or better.

“Of course you want to do good, but we have to be realistic. How we come here, with what ambitions. So far, we are doing a great race and we hope that we can continue that,” he said. “We’ll see at the end. It’s still a really long way with some really hard stages ahead. It’s just my third Grand Tour in my life and my second Grand Tour. It’s still a long way that I will know some more things, but so far so good and I’m looking forward.

“We all know that the race will be decided in the Pyrenees. It’s always the last days, as we saw in the Giro. I’m looking forward and hoping we can do good.”

Roglic’s teammate Kruijswijk remains in seventh place after the stage but lost 14 seconds to Thomas and 22 seconds to Roglic. However, Roglic says that there is no change in the hierarchy and that they will continue to work together. Whether they can beat Team Sky remains to be seen.

“I think it is the million dollar question. Nobody knows,” he said. “It’s racing, it’s not over till you cross the line in Paris. Everyone will fight until the last day, and that’s all we could do.”

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