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Roglic: Van Aert is half human, half motor

Paris Nice 2022 - 80th Edition - 8th stage Nice - Nice 115,6 km - 13/03/2022 - Wout Van Aert (BEL - Team Jumbo - Visma) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2022
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) continues to drive the pace for team leader Primož Roglič during the final stage of Paris-Nice 2022 (Image credit: Sprint Cycling Agency)

Primož Roglič made up for last year's disappointment in Paris-Nice, holding on to what should have been a more certain victory that was made unexpectedly tense in the final stage, with bad weather and a serious threat from Simon Yates (BikeExchange-Jayco) on the Col d'Eze.

Roglič, thanks to the help of Jumbo-Visma teammate Wout van Aert, almost single-handedly negated the gap that Yates had at the finish. The Briton won the stage by nine seconds, at one point enjoying a 28-second lead, though Roglič hung on to take the overall by 29 seconds ahead of Yates.

Last year, a pair of crashes on the final stage ended Roglič's hopes of winning the WorldTour race and dumped him from first to 15th. Sunday's stage looked at one point as if it might be another disappointment, and the Slovenian admitted he didn't have the power that he needed on the final climb of the day.

"I don't go without a bit of drama eh?" he quipped in the post-stage interview. "Again it was super hard the last one, but I have to admit this year I'm more happy than last year after the stage.

"I was tired from the very start. I also put on way too many clothes and cooked myself. When I took them off it was better, but too late. Still, it was good enough to achieve what we came here for.

"So it's really a big thanks to to my whole team and especially Wout here at the end," Roglič added. "Half human half motor. I would say that Wout can do everything.

"He's a class rider and super strong. I always say I'm happy and proud that I can learn something from him and ride beside him."

'Half human, half motor' was the same compliment Roglič delivered to teammate Rohan Dennis after stage 6. Two days ago, the stage that took the peloton over the Col de la Mure, Col de Sambuc, and Col de l'Espigoulier, saw Van Aert dropped early and Roglič ended the day isolated and having to cover attacks on his own.

On Sunday, Van Aert not only stayed with Roglič through to the final climb, but helped nullify Yates' lead that had momentarily threatened to stretch into a virtual general classification before dwindling to a handful of seconds at the line.

"I was definitely not feeling strong enough," Roglič admitted. "It was steep and I didn't have power. I was really suffering and fighting over the climb to limit the losses.

"Luckily, I knew that Wout had a super day and he was really, really a big, big help going through with me all the way to the finish."

For his part, Van Aert said that it was always the plan for him to stick with Roglič for as long as possible. He added that the team plan was never in trouble before the Col d'Eze, but said that "that's why we're teammates", referring to the help he gave Roglič.

"It was a scenario that I would stay as long as possible with Primož, to be the last guy to help him," said Van Aert. "We tried to control the race for as long as possible, which was quite hard on all these climbs. We never had to chase and we were always safe in the downhills which was a great job by everyone.

"In the final, I thought it was a great situation with a few guys and I hoped Primož had the legs he always has, but I think he suffered a bit today. It's normal that – I won't call it a bad day because we were second and third in the end – but maybe he was a bit out of energy in the end. But yeah, that's why we're teammates.

"Everyone remembers how it went last year and it's one of the big team goals we have this year. It's Primož's biggest goal of the spring; he prepared for it in Tenerife and I'm happy to be a little part of this."

There was much talk about Roglič, who lives in Monaco, racing over his local training roads once again after he won atop his frequently climbed of the Col de Turini on Saturday but he said it was not an advantage.

"Home race, home roads, but it didn't make it much easier today eh? I'm happy, definitely," he concluded.

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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. A former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.