Tour de France leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) has insisted that he had “nothing to hide” when asked by a journalist after stage 15 if he could “guarantee to us that we have nothing to worry about in terms of your credibility.”
Roglic was speaking during a press conference just a few minutes after he and his Jumbo-Visma team had delivered a ruthlessly dominating performance on the three mountain climbs of the day, with three teammates still with the Tour leader in the closing kilometers of the Grand Colombier.
While their powerful display of climbing strength saw riders like Egan Bernal (Ineos-Grenadiers) lose seven minutes and if Roglic previously had a margin of 72 seconds between himself and the fifth-placed rider, that has now stretched to a little over two minutes.
Compatriot Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) is now just 40 seconds behind after taking a second mountain stage win, but Roglic said that if he had the same margin on Pogacar at the end of next week before going into the final time trial, he would be satisfied.
Asked about his credibility given "there are always questions about Tour leaders going into the third week", Roglic answered there was no need for concern.
"I think they are doing a lot of controls. Today, a little after 6 a.m., I had a full control," he said. "I also now I just had a control, so I think there is really nothing to hide, and at least looking from my side, you can definitely trust it."
On the sporting front, Roglic conceded that Pogacar had had the better of him in the final sprint, but he praised his teammates to the heights for their hard work throughout.
After Tony Martin did a massive amount of work on the flat run-up to the three first category climbs, Jumbo-Visma's Robert Gesink handled almost all of the Col de la Biche by himself, then Wout Van Aert was particularly notable on the Grand Colombier, even causing Bernal to crack. George Bennett took over before Tom Dumoulin did another huge effort close to the summit.
"The guys were really strong, actually the plan was to let the breakaway go, it wasn't on us to [control] the race," Roglic argued.
"But then saw we can control it and the guys were feeling really well. Unfortunately, I was a little too short at the end but anyway it was a really nice day for us."
40 seconds on Roglic would, he argued, be sufficient if they came through to the final time trial in La Planche des Belles Filles in the same circumstances, perhaps hinting that he would play a more defensive game in the Alpine stages to come.
But he insisted that there had been no gifts to Pogacar at the summit of the Grand Colombier, saying "for sure he was the strongest and I am a little bit disappointed about that. We are friends, but we all want to win and we will always fight it out all the way."
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