Primož Roglič: ‘I always try to keep believing’

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Primož Roglič: ‘I always try to keep believing’

One month after the crash on stage 3 of the Tour de France that left him covered in bandages and factored in his eventual withdrawal from the race, Primož Roglič found himself wearing an Olympic gold medal on Wednesday in Tokyo.

The 31-year-old Slovenian was imperious in the men’s time trial, completing the 44.2 km course over a minute faster than runner-up Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) to achieve one of the biggest results of his illustrious career only a few weeks after abandoning the Tour.

 

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“It’s beautiful. This thing is quite heavy actually,” Roglič said of his medal with a smile after taking the win. “But for me it’s just incredibly nice after all the hard things that happened in the last moments to me and all the hard work that we put in from my side, from the family side, from the people all around me that today I managed to win the gold medal and be Olympic champion.”

Roglič, who has won the past two Vueltas a España, came into 2021 with his sights set on the Tour de France, where he was overhauled by Tadej Pogačar in the battle for yellow on the penultimate stage of last year’s race. He enjoyed a strong early season, with victories in three stages at Paris-Nice and a stage and the overall at the Itzulia Basque Country, and came into the French Grand Tour only just behind Pogačar with oddsmakers.

Disaster struck for Roglič on the third day of the race, however, as he hit the deck with 10 km to go and sustained numerous scrapes and bruises. He rode on in the race for several more days but was clearly affected by his injuries. He ultimately abandoned before stage 9, a bitterly disappointing outcome, albeit for different reasons, for a second straight year at the Tour.

After his Tour withdrawal, Roglič’s form was something of an unknown heading into the Olympics. He lost touch with the lead group before the finale of the men’s road race, where his compatriot Pogačar went on to take a bronze medal, and then he came into the men’s time trial as the lone Slovenian representative in the event.

Considering Pogačar’s own prowess in the discipline, Roglič’s participation in the TT may have come with some expectations.

He delivered.

A little over three weeks after leaving the Tour and calling time on the biggest objective of his season, Roglič took Slovenia’s first ever gold medal in cycling.

“It’s super hard. Especially when you know things are not going the way that you would like to,” Roglič said. “In the end, I worked hard, and I always try to keep believing. It’s still me, it’s Primož. Everything is always possible every day and I just went out and I had nothing to lose.”

Roglič preferred not to be drawn on the subject of whether his Olympic triumph helped wash away the disappointment of the Tour de France, instead simply pointing out that in this sport, every win is big – and that this particularly win is really big indeed.

“You know in cycling is just stupid to compare all these things, where everything is super hard to win,” he said. “Even your home race behind your house. But every achievement is special. This one I think for sure is super special and I’m really happy.”

Roglič’s may set his sights on taking a third straight Vuelta a España title next. After that, he’ll probably continue to eye Tour glory for years to come – but regardless of how things play out in his next few Grand Tour starts, he is cycling’s reigning Olympic champ in the time trial for the next three seasons.

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