You've no doubt seen the TV footage by now: The Jumbo-Visma team car had stopped for a nature break during the final 20km of stage 15 of the Giro d'Italia on Sunday, but suddenly get the message on the radio that race favourite Primoz Roglic needs a new bike. Cue some seriously frenetic driving.
Speaking to Cyclingnews on the second rest day of the Giro d'Italia on Monday, lead directeur sportif Addy Engels explained the sequence of events that led to Roglic having to take teammate Antwan Tolhoek's bike, which Roglic then crashed on coming down the Civiglio, eventually losing 40 seconds to main rivals Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and race leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar).
With the opportunity for teams to still 'feed' their riders until the top of the climb of the Civiglio, with just under 20km of the stage still to go, teams were trying to give out bottles on the approach to the climb.
"At that moment, each team was asked [over race radio] to give out drinks," Engels argued, keen to put the record straight with Cyclingnews.
Roglic was on his own in the group of favourites at that point, with no teammates, and the Slovenian had missed a bottle from a staff member standing at the side of the road on the Ghisallo earlier on the course, Engels explained.
"Sometimes these things happen," he said. "But after the descent [of the Sormano], things calmed down in the group. The pace was steady, but everyone started calling for drinks. The only disadvantage we had was that Primoz was on his own.
"We didn't have a good day as a team, in terms of support from the riders. And we also didn't have the best day ourselves yesterday, obviously," said Engels, referring to him and his colleagues with regard to what would come next.
"But Primoz still needed a drink, and it was a good moment, actually," he continued, and they were able to give out some bottles to Roglic.
"We were the first of the cars to supply bottles, and we knew that a lot of other teams were being called, so we wouldn't have been in position [at the front of the cars] even if he hadn't had to stop [to change his bike], especially on a road like that. So we supply bottles, and then the other teams come, which means that at some point you're going to be car 10 or 15 [in the convoy]. And because we knew that was coming, we decided to use that moment for a quick stop."
Common practice during races is for team cars to stop for their occupants to take a nature break whenever they feel they can, as Engels did.
"When we drove away after the stop, we were still in the cars [convoy]. But at the end of the day, that was the point when Primoz needed us, and we weren't there," said Engels. "Of course, we feel bad about that. But we've talked about it, and it's not an issue anymore, and we're now focusing on the last week."
What happended to Roglic's broken bike?
Engels also answered Cyclingnews' questions about what happened next to Roglic's broken bike. After Roglic took teammate Tolhoek's bike in his team car's absence, Tolhoek was left at the side of the road with the broken bike.
"When the second Movistar car reached Antwan, they gave him a spare bike," Engels explained. Movistar is race leader Carapaz's team but directeur sportif Max Sciandri sportingly offered some help.
"They [Movistar] took Primoz's broken bike," he said. "Antwan continued – I'm not sure how long for, but he continued on that bike until our second car got to him. And then Antwan got his own spare bike. After that, the second Movistar car and our second car exchanged bikes again, so Movistar had their bike again and our second car had Primoz's broken bike on the roof."
On Sunday Engels was asked by journalists where was Roglic's bike was at the finish. It was not on show at the finish and it seems it was no tested by the UCI for technological fraud. That sparked some suspicion and revived the ghosts of mechanical doping.
Jumbo-Visma and Engels pushed back against any accusations.
"I told them that it was on the second car. It was there, but it arrived pretty late, because it was behind our last riders, who were pretty far behind," he said.
"It's the same bike that got checked on Saturday after the stage, and it's been checked before," Engels pointed out.
Asked whether Roglic could still win the Giro, despite everything that happened on Sunday, and despite his position, now 47 seconds behind Carapaz, with six days of racing left, Engels was concise: "Yes – of course," he told Cyclingnews.
Check out Eurosport Nederlands' dashcam footage here of Engels and the team's high-speed chase back up to Roglic after their nature break.
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