Giro d’Italia leader Primož Roglič has said that it is “sad for Slovenian cycling” after a day in which two of his fellow-countrymen were confirmed to have possible links to joint German-Austrian anti-doping investigation Operation Aderlass.
Two of the four individuals notified on Wednesday by the UCI of potential anti-doping rules violations, former professional Borut Božič and current veteran pro Kristjian Koren, are from Slovenia.
After stage 5 of the Giro d’Italia, a journalist described Roglič as a member of a new generation of riders, but asked him what he made of the situation following the riders’ suspension.
"For me, it’s a hard [situation] and it’s just sad, because I think now we have a lot of good riders and it’s sad for sure for Slovenian cycling," Roglič said.
The other big news of the day, of course, was the end of Tom Dumoulin’s bid to win the Giro d’Italia for a second time. Whilst sympathetic to Dumoulin for his untimely exit, Roglič said that in terms of his own challenge, it did not change anything.
"For me, the only thing the team needs to do it is to be focused every day on what we need to do, the best way we can. It doesn’t really matter who is around because if we do our best then I’m happy with that."
Roglič also confirmed that Thursday’s stage, which has a second category climb close to the end, could well be a good one for letting a break go to the finish. If that happened, he said, having led the race for five days, he would view it as a good opportunity to lose the maglia rosa.
That said, the Slovenian was also ready to take on his responsibilities as Giro patron to talk with the organisers to negotiate a partially suspended finale to the waterlogged stage 5.
Given the wet conditions, timings for the general classification were taken on the first passage of the finish line in Terracina with 9km to go. That meant the overall contenders could sit up and take no risks in the closing kilometres, leaving the sprinters to get on with it.
Roglič was one of those who struck a deal with the race organisers.
"I think it was the right decision they took, because for us guys try to stay safe and we already saw yesterday [Tuesday, when Tom Dumoulin was badly injured in the finale - Ed] that you can easily lose a lot."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 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. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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