The fact that those two riders were his own teammates spoke volumes of Jumbo-Visma’s collective strength and set up an extraordinary 1-2-3 at the finish line.
The day’s honours went to Christophe Laporte, the least sung of the trio being gifted the victory and yellow jersey, but in terms of the battle for the overall title Roglič still inflicted a major blow to his rivals.
On a stage that many predicted would culminate in a bunch sprint, he put almost half a minute into his general classification rivals.
“I was not sure still about my shape and my legs, but in the end I was in this situation with the strongest guys here. I also managed to keep pace with them,” Roglič said at the finish.
Jumbo-Visma’s assault began after the first of two late ascents of the category-3 Côte de Beuil-Bois-Robert (1.2km at 6 per cent) passed quietly. However, after the descent and the trip through the finish line, they lit up the race as the route exposed itself to crosswinds, stretching the bunch to breaking point on the twisting roads.
A group of riders, including Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) and Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) had already been distanced by the foot of the climb, where Nathan Van Hooydonck kept the pressure on and then Laporte blew up the bunch with a a huge acceleration.
Roglič, along with teammate Wout van Aert, were the only ones able to follow. QuickStep-AlphaVinyl’s Zdenek Stybar was there initially but had to relent and the Jumbo-Visma trio went clear over the top and settled into a three-up mini team time trial, which they took all the way to the line.
With all the sprinters dropped and with most teams lacking numbers, there was no organised chase in the group that emerged behind, and the trio managed to prize open a 20-second lead heading into the final kilometre. The only question then was who would be chosen as the winner and, despite the prospect of extra bonus seconds (10-6-4 for the top three), Roglič was happy to see it go to the less heralded domestique.
“I really enjoyed it. Christophe got a yellow jersey, which is beautiful,” Roglič said.
Roglič can afford to forget about those four seconds. The gift to a teammate is an investment that will be repaid down the line, while the fact that he gained any time over his rivals was above and beyond his expectations.
The Slovenian lies second overall and 25 seconds clear of Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies) in fourth, with most of the pre-race favourites 28 seconds back. Beyond that, the most significant blow was landed on Max Schachmann, who snatched victory from Roglič last year. The German finished in a group behind the main one and now trails by 42 seconds, with Bora-Hansgrohe possibly switching leadership to Aleksandr Vlasov.
Elsewhere, Michael Storer lost more than six minutes, leaving Groupama-FDJ playing just the David Gaudu card from here on in.
Roglič dominated last year’s Paris-Nice with three stage wins and third in the time trial, but it all came crashing down on the final day as he repeatedly hit the deck. He’ll be aware that this golden head start is only a start, but, with just two race days in the legs before this, it’s clear he’s in the sort of shape that will make him very hard to beat by next Sunday.
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.