Roglic survives final day Pais Vasco test to seal overall victory
Slovenian survives early crash to claim first WorldTour stage race win
Despite a heavy crash to start the final stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) held on to seal his first overall WorldTour stage win. Roglic finished the stage in ninth place and despite giving away almost one minute to Mikel Landa, the Slovenian's lead remained intact.
The overall win is Roglic's first since his Volta ao Algarve success last year and was built on his stage 4 time trial victory in Lodosa. Second place finishes on stage 1, 2 and 5 also contributing to his fourth carer GC victory. The final margin to Landa in second 1:09 minutes with Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida) third at 1:42 minutes.
"This was tougher than I and the team expected beforehand," Roglic said of the stage won by Enric Mas. "Unfortunately I crashed hard, just after the neutral start. I have abrasions, but all in all it is not too bad. From that moment on, other teams went full gas and the race was on. It was difficult to get back in the front. The team has done an excellent job. I am very proud and grateful. In the end it was mainly a game of poker and I tried to not give them any impressions of how I felt on the bike."
Despite the difficulties of the stage, Roglic added that he knew the win was in the pocket and was able to enjoy the final kilometres. The overall victory a confidence boost to the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia stage winner.
"On the final climb I knew that I had secured the overall win because the climb was not too long," said Roglic. "This was a main goal and I succeeded. In the future I hope to win even more of such a great stage races and who knows one day I can also do well in a Grand Tour."
The victory is the tenth of the season for LottoNL-Jumbo and its first WorldTour stage win since George Bennet's Tour of California win last May. For sports director Grischa Niermann, Roglic's win was the result of a full team effort. Even if Roglic was the only LottoNl-Jumbo rider to finish the race.
"This was an exciting and stressful stage. I am glad that it is finished and that we have won the overall with Primoz," said Niermann. "I am proud of the team, how they all worked for each other throughout the day and week, but especially at Primoz how he stayed calm despite his heavy crash. The team has given one hundred percent to get him back in the front. As a result, Primoz was all by himself in the final, but he played it cool and nicely. My compliments for what the team has achieved this week. This is a team effort."
Up next for Roglic is the Tour de Romandie where the former ski jumper won the final day time trial stage and finished third overall. Roglic is also set to race the Tour of Slovenia before lining out for his second career Tour de France in July.
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