Liège-Bastogne-Liège defending champion Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Vimsa) was the first to admit that he was simply off the pace in a thrilling edition of Lay Doyenne that saw the Slovenian's compatriot and rival Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) take a maiden Monument win.
Roglic came into the final spring Classics as one of the main contenders after finishing second to Julian Alaphilippe in La Flèche Wallonne but the Jumbo Visma rider was unable to latch on to the winning move when it sailed clear on the final climb of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons with 13km to go.
Caught in the second group, and heavily marked by UAE Team Emirates riders, Roglic was forced to chase but he would eventually finish 13th and in a group that contained former winner Jakob Fuglsang, Esteban Chaves, and Davide Formolo.
"For me, it was too slow at the start and too fast at the finish,” Roglic quipped at the finish in Liège.
“It was slow because of the headwind and then full gas in the end and the final but I just didn’t have the best legs in the final and I couldn’t follow the best ones.”
Roglic was found wanting when Ineos attacked on the Côte de la Redoute with 37km to go, with Tao Geoghegan Hart setting a furious pace on the climb.
Roglic managed to claw his way back to the lead group before the summit but on the Côte des Forges, the Jumbo Visma leader found himself in the second group. The race came back together but on the final climb of the Côte de la Roche-aux-Faucons, the winning move formed with Pogacar riding clear with Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).
It would be the last time Roglic saw the leaders until the finish in Liège and at the line, he was asked whether he had paid for such an intense start to the season.
Roglic raced Paris-Nice in March and then won a highly competitive Itzulia Basque Country before racing all three of the Ardennes Classics. He helped set up Wout Van Aert for the win in Amstel Gold Race and then missed out to Alaphilippe in La Flèche Wallonne but Liège marked his final race until the Tour de France.
“It’s hard to be immediately smart and do some conclusions but I always try and be one of the best and give it everything,” he said.
“Of course sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and I think that’s the most important part.”
Instead of racing between now at the Tour, Roglic will concentrate on training and recon as he builds up for the Tour de France, where he will aim to go one better than last year, when he was beaten to the maillot jaune by Pogacar in the final time trial.
“I’m happy with the first part of the season and I was always there and always fighting. Now I deserve some rest. First I’ll have a break and then I’m going to altitude camps. That’s it.”
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.