Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) rarely lets his face reveal his true emotion but there was a real sense of relief and happiness in his smile after he managed to pull back 31 seconds on Mikel Landa (Movistar) in the final time trial and so finish third overall in the Giro d'Italia. The three-week race also offered lots of lesson for the future about nutrition, tactics, bike change protocols and even dealing with the constant media scrutiny.
Roglic dominated the opening hilly time trial in Bologna on stage 1 but rode mostly on the defensive for the rest of the race, especially after crashing on the descent to Como on stage 14 after a debacle of a bike change. Roglic damaged his ribs that day but rode on in pain, fighting to stay with Landa, Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), eventual winner Richard Carapaz (Movistar) and hold onto the hope of a podium spot.
"Of course, like I said, finishing today in this stadium with so many Slovenian supporters, It feels like it a win. I'm super proud and happy about it," Roglic said.
"Everybody was fighting for the win from the beginning and a lot of things happened, I had a lot of problems. I didn't feel great after stage 14, so at the end, with all the problems I had, it's a win to finish on the podium in Verona."
The 2019 Giro d'Italia was Roglic's fourth Grand Tour but his first as a team leader, preparing throughout the spring for the Corsa Rosa. He won the UAE Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie but has perhaps learnt in the last three weeks that Grand Tour racing is much physically and mentally harder, especially when you face-off against home-race favourite Vincenzo Nibali.
Senior directeur sportif Addy Engels suggested that the Jumbo-Visma team learnt more from their day of disaster on the roads to Como than in any moment of success. Roglic agreed, later thanking his young teammates and staff on returning to the Jumbo-Visma hotel outside of Verona.
"After the war, you can always be smart about what to do differently, about what we can change improve. But I'm super happy and proud of this Giro d'Italia," Roglic said.
Also, the first part of the season, with all the races I did. For sure I learn these moments and I will try to take something out of it. We all learn quite some things with the whole team when we do this three-week race. We need to do some analysis, maybe with the food, and what I did wrong, then we can come back and do even better."