After a brutally difficult start to the Tour de France marred by several crashes and some important injuries, one of the biggest pre-race favourites Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) has decided to abandon.
Roglič completed stage 8 of the Tour de France on Saturday in 175th and third last place, more than 35 minutes down, but he will not start Sunday’s second Alpine stage.
The 2020 runner-up had fallen heavily twice in the first three stages, raising question marks over how he would be able to fight on in the race. Check-ups after his stage 3 crash revealed no broken bones but he had badly bruised and scraped his left side.
Roglič managed to limit his losses in Wednesday’s time trial, but on Friday, when he finished nearly four minutes down on the other favourites on stage 7, it was clear his GC options were evaporating quickly. On Sunday's stage 8, Roglič opted to quit to make what is, for him, an unprecedented abandon of a Grand Tour, the eighth of his career.
"We took the decision altogether with the team, it doesn’t make sense to continue the way it was going at the end," Roglič said in a statement from his team.
"Now we’ll definitely try to recover and focus on the new goals."
After the stage 3 crash, he said he did not realise that it would be so difficult to reach Paris.
"Not really, I never look so far ahead. It’s more trying to be in the moment and going through, and that’s exactly how it went. I was just going through the days."
However, he said that with time he saw he was not improving, and "it doesn't make sense to continue." Although the time trial offered some hope, the following day he began to suffer badly again.
"I was really bad and in a lot of pain. With the normal stages it was too much for my body at the moment.
"I’m definitely disappointed, I didn't plan this to be the way it is and you have to accept it. I have to go on with this decision. I have to be optimistic, look to the future and new goals."
Roglič did not discuss what those new goals could be, although he is down to participate in the Olympic Games. As for the Tour, Jumbo-Visma’s best-placed rider is currently Wout van Aert, seccond at 1:48 down on race leader Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
Jumbo-Visma, meanwhile, will now switch focus to Jonas Vingegaard's GC aspirations, with the Dane lying fifth overall, five minutes down. Stage wins for Van Aert and Sepp Kuss will also be a goal.
“We’re dead but we’re not buried. We’ve got to look for chances and see what opportunities we have,” team directeur sportif Merijn Zeeman told Cyclingnews after stage 8. "Now we’ve got to focus on other objectives as a team.”
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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