Up until Sunday evening, Primoz Roglic’s biggest claim to fame in his debut Giro d’Italia was that he had lost the opening time trial by less than two hundredths of a centimetre. But in the next race against the clock Chianti, nine days later, that all changed.
Riding before heavy rain set in on the Chianti time trial and averaging nearly 47 kmh for a very hilly course, the LottoNL-Jumbo pro netted the stage win ahead of IAM Cycling duo Matthias Brändle - the former Hour Record holder - and Vegard Stake Laengen by 10 seconds and 17 seconds respectively.
The 26-year-old Slovenian has a curious past as an athlete: a former Junior World Ski Jump Champion, he switched to cycling as recently as five years ago, and turned pro with the Continental Adria Mobil team in 2013. He won the King of the Mountains classification in the Coppi and Bartali stage race last year, as well as the Tour of Azerbajan and Tour of Slovenia overall and moved to LottoNL-Jumbo over last winter. Since then, his target for his first season with a WorldTour team has been racing the Giro d'Italia as a support rider for Steven Kruijswijk.
Roglic is clearly making fast progress for himself, too, telling reporters after his Giro stage win on Sunday that he had never ridden more than 10 kilometres in an individual time trial before, at either professional or amateur level.
Indeed, the only time he had ridden so far against the clock was in the 2014 World Championships, as part of a team time trial, "which was 50 kilometres", he said. Roglic had not even ridden the Chianti time trial in a recon this morning, either, preferring to cover the route from a team car, "so at least I knew a little about what to expect."
Predictably enough, Roglic was, he said, "really happy with his performance, and if I could I would be jumping for joy. I was unlucky in Apeldoorn, but here I was lucky with the weather too."
Roglic had some technical issues both before and during the time trial, but luckily that did not put him off his stride. First he had to change his bike before the stage "because of some problems." Then he also lost his computer and his bidon when they fell off his bike during the stage and that, he said, had briefly affected his motivation to ride. However, his strong riding on the uphill sections helped him regain momentum and he ended up with a Giro d'Italia stage win in his palmares.
His next objective, Roglic said, "was to help Steven in the GC, that's my main priority." But at Chianti, at least, Roglic was able to triumph in his own right.
Primoz Roglic is the third Slovenian to win a stage at the Giro d'Italia, after Luka Mezgec in a bunch sprint at Trieste in 2014, and Jan Polanc on the Abetone, a summit finish, in 2015.
More in this story:
- Giro d'Italia stage 9 - Finish line quotes
- Giro d'Italia stage 9 - Video highlights
- Cancellara abandons Giro d'Italia
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.