Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) post-stage warm down after stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico may have been similar but their sentiments were of stark contrast. The Jumbo-Visma rider was happy to have extended his lead on almost all of his overall rivals, while the Dutchman was clearly disappointed to have lost precious seconds and virtually any chance of overall victory.
Roglic finished a close second behind Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and ahead of race leader Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), but gained 23 seconds on Dumoulin and the other overall contenders. A six-second time bonus narrowed his deficit on Yates to just seven seconds and he extended his overall lead on Dumoulin to 43 seconds, with only Sunday’s stage in the steep Le Marche hills and then Tuesday’s final 10km time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto opportunities to make time back.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) is fourth at a more distant 56 seconds, while Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb) is at the same time, with Lutsenko sixth at 1:06.
Thanks to Jumbo-Visma’s second place in the team time trial, the time Roglic gained in Fossombrone, and the time he is expected to gain in the final time trial, the Slovenian is sitting pretty, with the bonus of Yates and Mitchelton-Scott having the obligations and responsibility that comes with the leader’s blue jersey.
Roglic is not very emotive in front of the media and fans, but his satisfaction was easy to see.
“It was a real race today, all stage. I wanted to win but second place and time gained overall is good,” he said. "There’s still some shit I have to learn about sprinting at the highest level, I still have to learn some things in cycling, but that’s okay. Lutsenko was still the strongest in finish despite his crash."
Despite cueing up overall success, Roglic was cautious about celebrating before Tuesday’s time trial. Adam Yates played down his chances of victory but Roglic will keep him under a tight leash during Sunday’s stage to Recanati. He also knew that key teammates crashed hard, including the hard-working Tony Martin.
"Maybe I won’t have a good day, we're not at the finish yet, there’s quite a bit of racing left to do,” Roglic warned.
"Ask his brother, he won a time trial, so we’ll see what happens," he said about Adam Yates’ chances in the time trial.
Only disappointment for Dumoulin
A hundred metres away Dumoulin tried to spin the disappointment out of his mind and his legs. The rollers worked out the lactic acid from the 10 per cent I Capuccini climb, but couldn’t cancel his disappointment of losing time and a real shot at overall victory.
“It’s going to be near impossible I guess,” Dumoulin said of giving Team Sunweb its first win of the 2019 season.
Dumoulin revealed he had exchanged greeting with Geraint Thomas at the start, telling him he was feeling good but hearing that the Welshman was feeling out of sorts. Dumoulin looked good when Lutsenko made his first attack with 37km to go but then suffered on the steep slopes of the I Capuccini climb and elsewhere after they chased the Astana rider down.
"I was good when we went into that first group and I felt strong but as soon as we got caught back, I somehow lost my good legs,” Dumoulin admitted.
"Maybe I went over my limit a little because I struggled in the finale. I got back to the second group but it’s not what I hoped for of course."
Yates led Roglic by seven seconds, with Dumoulin third at 50 seconds. But the Dutchman, like most observers, thinks Roglic is poised to win if he can stay close to Yates and then seal victory in the final time trial. However, he gives Yates a small chance.
"I think Roglic, with his better time trialling skills is the bigger favourite now, more than Yates. But maybe Adam can pull a Simon… You never know," Dumoulin concluded, finally finding his sense of humour after a hard, disappointing day in the saddle.