Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) seemed unruffled by Vincenzo Nibali's mind games on the long climb of the Col del Nivolet as the race for the maglia rosa in the Giro d'Italia exploded on stage 13. Roglic's disregard for his role as an overall contender was confirmed post-stage and he preferred not to speak to the media after the summit finish, instead quickly changing in to dry clothes and then descending to the Jumbo-Visma team bus parked 25km back down the valley.
While Nibali was fueling their rivalry with accusations that the Slovenian refused to work and refuses to accept his responsibility as an overall contender, Roglic was already on the descent, riding against the direction of the race. His emotions and any doubts or difficulties of the day were, as ever, kept out of view.
Roglic was no doubt pleased to have kept his 1:44 lead on Nibali and perhaps happy that Jan Polanc was still in the race leader's maglia rosa so the UAE Team Emirates squad would take control of the race for as long as possible. Roglic wore the maglia rosa for five days at the start of the race but was happy to let it slip from his grasp on a fast day to San Giovanni Rotondo last Thursday.
Whatever Nibali may say, Roglic made his race strategy clear when he spoke briefly after the finish in Pinerolo this Thursday.
"The most important thing is to have the jersey in Verona," he said. End of conversation.
After the finish up at Lago Serru, Roglic's silence obliged his Jumbo-Visma directeur sportif Addy Engels to respond to Nibali's provocation.
"I don't see it like that (as a Nibali vs Roglic battle). Maybe it looks like that on the final climb but there are guys in front and other guys behind. We still have hard days to come. For sure it's a lot of guys still in the game, and we are looking to them, too," Engels said calmly, sat on the front of the team car before the mass evacuation down the mountain.
"On the final climb, they (Roglic and Nibali) were more or less even in strength. They were testing each other, and they saw they were not able to drop each other."
Engels dismissed the idea that Roglic and Jumbo-Visma are failing to fulfil their role as an overall contender.
"It's not about not wanting to ride, it's about spending the energy the best way possible," he said. "It's up to the other guys to attack Primoz, and they did. I think with the difference in the GC we have, Primoz did a good job. As a team, we showed a lot of motivation to take the responsibility."
Changes to the overall classification
The overall classification changed significantly after the first mountain finish of this year's race but Engels was happy to keep Nibali at 1:44.
Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) moved to just 31 seconds down on Roglic and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Richard Carapaz and Mikel Landa (Movistar) also pulled back different amounts of time.
The time losers were Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) who lost 5:00 to Zakarin and a further 2:03 to Roglic and Nibali, and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana), whose unfortunate late puncture leant he lost 1:22 to Roglic and Nibali. The Colombian is over five minutes behind Roglic now, with Yates nearer to six minutes and outside the top ten.
"Looking to the GC this morning and looking at it now, it was a good day for us. The time we gained is good. After two weeks on GC, I think we can be happy," Engels said.
"The guys who went and got some space were the guys we expected to go. I don't want to say we got rid of Yates and Lopez, but we gained a little more time. It's still Yates and Lopez, those riders are still very dangerous."
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