Vuelta a España director Javier Guillén has both paid tribute to Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) after the Slovenian launched an unexpected attack late on stage 16 and simultaneously expressed hopes that the triple race winner is not seriously affected physically by his late crash.
Roglič, currently running second overall in the race, launched a dramatic ambush of race leader Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) in the closing kilometres of what seemed set to be an uneventful stage.
However, he then crashed heavily within sight of the line, and has suffered injuries which require further evaluation on Wednesday morning before it is confirmed he will continue.
Meanwhile race leader Evenepoel punctured but only lost eight seconds as it happened in the last three kilometres of the race. The Vuelta boss was not able to witness the last moments of the stage directly as the race director car in which he was travelling, as is standard practice, had moved ahead to the line after being situated just ahead of the peloton for most of the day.
Guillén told Cyclingnews shortly after the podium ceremonies, and before the commissaires had reached a complete verdict on the stage, that he had “enormous regret” for Roglič after his crash, because “it affects everybody on a sporting level,” while his primary concern now is “to see how the rider [Roglič] is doing” and that he has a speedy recovery.
“It was a very dramatic finale of a stage and now we’ll have to see what kind of medical and sporting criteria are applied,” he said. “I don’t have much information yet as I go ahead of the race at that point, except that Roglič fell and Evenepoel was reported to have a puncture.”
“So I can’t really give an opinion except that we prefer everything to evolve purely as a sports event, without getting into discussions about whether there should or shouldn’t be a time gap applied [between Roglič and Evenepoel.]”
However, he did praise Roglič for his attack, saying it had converted what looked to be a straightforward bunch sprint finale “into something more epic.”
“But epics have that downside, too, that sometimes they contain crashes and punctures and three-kilometre rules,” said Guillén.
The Vuelta director added that he had yet to find out anything more from Jumbo-Visma, preferring to let the team attend to their rider without any external interruptions.
“Hopefully he’s not got anything serious. It wouldn't help things to ask right now, but we hope and want and I’d even say we need the rider to be ok. So let’s hope he is unhurt.”
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