"The main opponent for me tomorrow will be myself," Primož Roglič said in Pesaro on the eve of the Giro d’Italia's stage 9 time trial to San Marino. The Slovenian's subdued interview persona could never be mistaken for Muhammad Ali's pre-fight proclamations of greatness, but he carefully clarified his statement lest there be any misinterpretation. "It's because I will be alone, and I will be fighting against myself to do as good as possible."
If the San Marino time trial has loomed large over the opening week of this Giro, then so too has Roglič's presumed supremacy on the stage. His resounding victory in the opening time trial in Bologna last weekend installed him as the favourite for Sunday's longer, sea-to-sky test, a status that has only been burnished further following Tom Dumoulin's unfortunate abandon on stage 5.
Into the mountains
While the Giro's three individual time trials provided the three compelling reasons that convinced Jumbo-Visma's to deploy him in Italy rather than at the Tour de France this season, Engels maintained that his tilt at overall victory here does not depend wholly on the gains he makes against the watch. Indeed, Roglič lost his place on the podium of last year's Tour in the final time trial, while his climbing has been the equal of his time trialling through his remarkable sequence of three stage race victories so far this season.