Roglic continues unlikely journey with Tour de France stage win

Primoz Roglic is a man of few words. His unlikely journey from junior ski jumping world champion to the professional peloton may be one of the most remarkable stories in cycling, but Roglic is not one to wax lyrical about it, not even after becoming the first Slovenian to win a stage of the Tour de France.

Part of the day's early break on stage 17, Roglic crossed the Col de la Croix de Fer and Col du Télégraphe with the leaders, before forging clear of a group containing no less a figure than Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) on the Col du Galibier.

Roglic attacked six kilometres from the top of the Galibier and tapped out a metronomic tempo thereafter. It was immediately clear that Contador would not be able to bridge the gap to the Slovenian, and he had more than enough of a buffer on the yellow jersey group to secure the victory.

At the summit of the Galibier, Roglic was more than a minute clear of Chris Froome (Sky) et al, and he maintained that advantage on the 30 kilometres of descending that followed, seemingly unperturbed by the headwind in his face on the final, exposed approach towards Serre Chevalier.

"The crucial moment was the moment I went away from the other guys. I had to fight by myself to stay away until the finish," said Roglic. "It's crazy that I'm the man to make some cycling history in Slovenia."

A gold medallist in the ski jumping team event at the junior world championships in 2007, Roglic turned to cycling in 2012 and within a year had made the jump to the paid ranks, joining Adria Mobil. After three seasons with the Continental squad, culminating in Tour of Slovenia victory in 2015, he moved into the WorldTour ranks last year when he signed on with LottoNL-Jumbo. Few riders have progressed so rapidly in such a short period of time,

"I was dreaming of winning a stage on the Tour, but dreaming is one thing and reality is another," said Roglic, who will turn 28 in October. "Just participating in the Tour de France is a really nice thing. This is really unbelievable."

A year ago, Roglic highlighted his credentials as a rouleur by claiming a surprise victory in the Chianti time trial at the Giro d'Italia. This season alone, he won time trials at the Tour of the Basque Country, Ster ZLM Toer, Volta ao Algarve and Tour de Romandie, but also began to showcase a wider range of abilities on the climbs by placing 3rd overall at Romandie, 4th at Tirreno-Adriatico and 5th in the Basque Country.

"Not really, I just train normal," he said when asked if he had adapted his training regimen for the current campaign. "I like mountains. I train a bit at Sierra Nevada on altitude camps, and it's hard to find flat roads in Slovenia, but I discovered I was good at time trials, too."

Roglic's sudden rise has not been bereft of controversy. In June 2016, a report on France Télévisions' Stade 2 raised suspicions that the Slovenian had used a hidden motor at that year's Strade Bianche, citing a thermal image of his rear wheel that was taken during the race. The report also pointed out that Roglic's late bike change ahead of the previous month's Giro time trial meant that his winning machine had not been tested for a motor.

LottoNL-Jumbo immediately demanded a retraction of the allegation, and manager Richard Plugge said that Roglic's rear wheel in the thermal image had been provided to him by neutral service following a puncture. Asked about the controversy in Serre Chevalier on Wednesday, Roglic was succinct.

"I don't know, for me, it's just funny. I don't comment on that stuff," Roglic said. "It's just bullshit."

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Barry Ryan
Head of Features

Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.