Tour de France: Roglic's late attack earns Zwift Rider of the Day

LottoNL-Jumbo's leader trims eight seconds from gap to Geraint Thomas

For his impressive attack on the Côte de la Croix Neuve in Mende, Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo) wins Zwift Rider of the Day on stage 14 of the Tour de France. The Slovenian was the first to attack the GC group, staying away to the line for an eight-second time gain over the next group of riders.

And it wasn't just any group of riders, as the trio coming in behind him were Geraint Thomas, Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) - the current top three in the general classification. Despite his time gain being a slim margin - Roglič moves from 2:46 down on Thomas to 2:38 - the result is a potentially significant sign for the remainder of the race.

The stage was all about the final climb, with the action prior to Mende coming exclusively from the breakaway. Hitting the climb 18 minutes after Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), stage winner Omar Fraile (Astana) and the rest, the peloton rode the initial stages of the 'Montée Laurent Jalabert' conservatively, with nobody venturing an attack.

Roglič went on the steepest section of the climb, as the gradient hit 12-13 per cent just over a kilometre in, and 3km from the finish line. Despite Team Sky's prodigy Egan Bernal leading the GC group behind, the gap held at a handful of seconds.

An attack from Dumoulin as Bernal pulled off with 2km to go didn't reduce the gap either, with Roglič still ploughing on up ahead. The ex-ski jumper stayed away over the top, maintaining his advantage on the airstrip to round off an impressive end to the stage.

Roglič's ride was part of LottoNL-Jumbo's double-pronged strategy that saw teammate Steven Kruijswijk attempt a 70km solo attack on stage 12 to Alpe d'Huez. Both lost time on that day, with Kruijswijk now lying a further 1:19 adrift in 7th overall, but Roglič only seems to be improving.

After losing 1:11 to the Sky men and 1:04 to Dumoulin in the team time trial, Roglič finished with them on the Mûr-de-Bretagne and the cobbles of Roubaix. His worst day yet on the open road came on La Rosière, 59 seconds behind Thomas and 39 behind Dumoulin and Froome. On the Alpe d'Huez he lost 13, 11 and 9 seconds to each man, respectively, before turning the tables today.

It signifies an improvement, boding well for next week - the Pyrenean stages and his favoured terrain, the time trial. There may be only one summit finish on which to gain time - the ambush-made 65km stage to Saint-Lary-Soulan - but recall last year's Tour de France and you'll remember Roglič flying down the Galibier to take his first Tour stage victory at Serre-Chevalier.

Add in potential fatigue hitting Froome and Dumoulin, who both have the Giro d'Italia in their legs, and the unknown factor that is third week Geraint Thomas, and it's possible that circumstances could conspire perfectly for Roglič.

If so, it would come as the ultimate conclusion to the astonishing progress he has made since taking up cycling in 2012. After quitting ski jumping because he considered it too tough to make the top level of the sport, Roglič quickly got a contract with Continental team Adria Mobil in 2013.

Three seasons at the Slovenian team, which included wins at the Tour d'Azerbaïdjan and Tour of Slovenia, saw him snapped up by LottoNL-Jumbo in 2016. During his first season with the Dutch squad he won the rain-hit Chianti time trial at the Giro and competed in the Olympics. Last season came the Tour stage silver in the Worlds TT, and top-five placings in three WorldTour stages races, while this spring has seen the next big leap - wins at the Vuelta al País Vasco and Tour de Romandie.

It would be a massive next step for a rider whose 38th overall last July represents his career-best best grand tour result, but today's ride might just be the base on which Primož Roglič builds a Tour de France win.

Daniel Ostanek: Today's award could easily have gone to Jasper Stuyven for his breakaway efforts and so-close-but-yet-so-far capture, but Roglič's progress deserves a write-up. His ride up today's final climb was his most impressive of the Tour so far, and it looks like he's improving as the race goes on.

He's had a perfect season so far, winning two WorldTour stage races and his home tour, and deserv-edly finds himself in contention heading into the Tour's final week. It might be a step too far, or a year too early, but winning the race is well within the realms of possibility. Next week keep your eye on Roglič, the dark horse.

Readers' choice

On Friday's stage 13 you picked Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan as your Zwift Rider of the Day. The world champion won his third stage of the Tour, outsprinting Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) in Valence. With the sprint field largely depleted after the Alps, Sagan was always the favourite to win and delivered as everybody expected. He only needs to get to Paris to seal a record-equalling sixth green jersey.

You can vote for stage 14's Rider of the Day below. We will announce the readers' poll winner after Sunday's stage 15.

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