Primoz Roglic is yet to officially confirm his plans for 2020, but he indicated he might focus on the Tour de France, saying it's now his "dream" to win La Grande Boucle, and suggesting that the Giro d'Italia is better suited to his future teammate at Jumbo-Visma, Tom Dumoulin.
Having finished just outside the podium at the Tour in 2018, Roglic came of age as a Grand Tour rider this year, placing third at the Giro d'Italia before winning the Vuelta a España later in the year. With victories at the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico, the Giro dell'Emilia and the Tre Valli Varesine, he finished the year as the number-one ranked rider in the world.
Yet Roglic's status within his own team is far from clear cut, given the arrival in 2020 of Dumoulin – winner of the 2017 Giro and a home star for the Dutch team. Factor in Steven Kruijswijk, who finished third at this year's Tour de France, and Jumbo-Visma have both the luxury of one of the strongest Grand Tour arsenals and the headache of deciding how to divide their resources.
"I can't really say now what I'll do for definite, but I want to win the Tour," Roglic told Cyclingnews at the recent Saitama Criterium in Japan.
"It's the biggest race, and now, as someone who's capable of winning a Grand Tour – and with a nice third place at the Giro – it's somehow the dream to win the Tour," he said.
The respective routes for the 2020 editions of the Giro and Tour have been unveiled in the last couple of weeks, leading to the annual intrigue over which Grand Tour riders will go where.
While the Tour unveiled a parcours of relentless climbing and minimal time trialling, the Giro has gone for a full three time trials – totalling 58.8km – to balance a brutal final week in the high mountains. In theory, the Giro is the more attractive option for both Roglic and Dumoulin, who have both inflicted significant damage on the pure climbers against the clock in recent years.
"I haven't had time to really study the routes in total detail, but, yeah, the Giro has three time trials and should be OK for me but maybe, if I think more about it, it's even more OK for Tom," Roglic said.
"I still don't consider myself a real time-trial specialist," he added. "OK, I can do them well, but I'm best on the not-so-normal ones, rather than when it's flat for 30km in one direction and then back."
Roglic also pointed out that his Vuelta win was hardly a case of making gains in the time trials and defending in the mountains. Indeed, he regularly left the likes of Alejandro Valverde, Miguel Angel Lopez, and Nairo Quintana behind, and was arguably only out-climbed by his young compatriot Tadej Pogacar.
"There's also no reason why the Tour wouldn't suit us," Roglic said. "Normally, I can gain time in a time trial in the Tour, but if you look back at this year, if I'm healthy and everything is OK, I also don't have problems riding in the mountains."
Whatever he decides, Roglic heads into the off-season as, on paper, the best rider the world. The UCI has scrapped the old WorldTour ranking, but Roglic nevertheless finished the season at the top the 52-week rolling UCI World Ranking, more than 1,000 points clear of Julian Alaphilippe and the rest.
In any case, 2019 has been another big step in the 30-year-old Slovenian's extraordinary transition from his misspent youth as a ski jumper.
"I feel tired but, on the other hand, that's probably the feeling you should have. It's just incredibly nice to have such a great season, with a lot of victories, and to be able to finish as the number one at the end," Roglic said.
"That was what I was hoping for, or wanted to be. I always say I want to do as many things as possible, and you also need to be good at a number of things if you want to win a Grand Tour. To still do well in all the other races has been great, though."
As for whether he has reached the peak of his progression, or whether there's still margin for improvement, that question was greeted with the "we'll see" refrain heard so often at the Giro and Vuelta.
"No matter what, I've now already finished once the world number one, and I'll always be proud of that," Roglic said.
"As always, better results come with more expectations. It goes higher and higher, and I also have more responsibility now. No matter what, I'll work hard, and we'll see how it goes next year."
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