Primoz Roglic (Slovenia) will forever be etched into the winner’s photo of the men’s elite time trial at the 2019 UCI Road World Championships, but only because he was able to hang onto the coattails of Rohan Dennis after the Australian caught him for three minutes.
Dennis resoundingly retained his title, but as he crossed the line and celebrated emphatically, Roglic cast a disconsolate figure under the Australian’s shadow. This was simply a race too far for the Vuelta a Espana winner, who only seemed to find his rhythm and verve after Dennis had caught him in the second half of the race. In the end, the Slovenian finished 12th over the 54km course, exactly three minutes down on the Australian.
“The result was not good, but looking at my power I did what I was planning to do. It just wasn’t enough,” Roglic told Cyclingnews at the finish as he stretched his weary legs.
“It’s a time trial and not a short one. This was a special discipline, and it takes special preparation for something like this. I didn’t really plan for this effort so for me it was just about coming here and then trying to do to my best.”
Roglic’s best was a far cry from the level he has maintained for most of the season. The 29-year-old started his campaign back in February and held top form – or very close to it – until taking a break in June. He returned to competition in August at the Vuelta and was the undisputed winner, but in the intervening weeks his form and concentration have understandably slipped since taking a maiden Grand Tour victory.
“I didn’t do much," he said. "You don’t win the Vuelta every day so I tried to enjoy that moment. I still tried to enjoy things here.”
Roglic started the time trial off the pace and was 22nd and then 16th at the first two time checks. When Dennis steamed by, the Slovenian quickly reacted and used the Australian’s pace-setting to measure his efforts in the closing stages.
“For me, when he passed me it was really bad for my morale but I tried to do my best. I still pushed all the way to the finish. But I don’t really train for the time trial, but as a GC guy, I can still do a good time trial. The result for sure is a disappointment, but all other things weren’t. I couldn’t expect to produce any more power. I just tried to do my best today, and actually, I’m not that disappointed.
“I’d be disappointed if I’d planned all year to win here, but for me I achieved other things. I’m a GC guy, and normally from the guys I’m competing with, not many were in front of me today. Still, I want to be as complete a rider as possible. It’s a new challenge to do time trials like this, but for sure I’ll learn something.”
Roglic still has one more race on his programme at the World championships with a place in the men’s road race awaiting him. It’s hard to imagine the Slovenian finding a second wind after his time trial woes, but he goes into the event with no pressure.
“We’ll see. I still have quite a lot of pain here from the Vuelta," he said. "I have to see how it goes. I’m not famous for being the best in road races, and it’s just my second road worlds so I have to lot learn.”
Still, at least Roglic has those winner’s photos to enjoy.