A spectacular long-distance attack by Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was rewarded with his second victory in three years in the Itzulia Basque Country as he reclaimed the overall lead in dramatic style on the last stage of the race.
Roglič’s move began some 60 kilometres from the line on a descent from the Elosua-Gorla climb that seemingly caught the former race leader Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) on the back foot. McNulty then fell suffered badly on the ultra-steep Krabelin climb and although teammate Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates tried to chase down the Roglič move from a chase group, finally he had to settle for third overall.
Slowly shredding the front group of some dozen riders to himself, Hugh Carthy (EF) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), after Carthy imploded early on the Arrate at the summit only Roglič and the Frenchman remained ahead, with Roglič not disputing the finish with Gaudu and waving him through to the win.
Roglič’s overall victory in one of the toughest stage races of the calendar, together with an opening stage win in the Bilbao time trial, has allowed the Slovenian to regain momentum after his difficult finale in Paris-Nice.
There had been some who had question Jumbo-Visma’s tactics after they did not chase down Brandon McNulty on stage 4. But two days later, with Roglič in first and Jonas Vingegaard in second overall, the Dutch team’s strategy proved to have been the right one.
“I’ve had some bad luck on my last stages,” Roglič said afterwards, referring to his final hours defeats in the Tour de France and Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné.
“Today was just beautiful, everything went right and I had fun on the whole stage today.
“It was a good race, and I raced it. Jonas [Vingegaard, second overall] was also strong, he was in the second group, if I’d blown up he’d have been there at the end.
“So it was a super-good performance by all the team, we had fun the whole week and today was a nice day for us.”
Initially powered by Movistar and Astana Pro Team, with Jumbo-Visma’s Lawrence Tolhoek also contributing in the Roglič group, behind Pogačar did his utmost to protect McNulty before the American lost contact with the chase group some 40 kilometres form the line.
As the front group shrank and shrank, Roglič remained in control and powered on towards a second Itzulia Basque Country win.
“At the end of the day, whatever happened, I had a great race, and with Jonas [Vingegaard] in the second group we had another option. If I blew up he was there.”
Asked if it was planned to attack in that way, Roglič said, “no, it just happened. It was just a super-hard race and if I have the legs, I always want to race. So I wanted to go for it.”
As for his form in general, he said, “It’s been good. Three or four weeks ago I crashed twice and it wasn’t the best preparation for this race. But I already get a beautiful result the first day and I’ve been here with a young team.
“We all need to learn to race as well as possible, but it was fun and everything went well. So chapeau to all the guys and everyone involved.”
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