Roglic, during the last Tour de France Thibault Camus (AP)
A motorbike maneuvered poorly at the exit of a roundabout, loosening a bale of alpaca covered in yellow and white plastic, an unforeseen obstacle on the road to Arenberg and a few kilometers from the cobblestone track. Although the Tour de France peloton would pass in a few minutes, no one moved it, neither spectators nor the gendarme who controlled this area; a fatal oversight for Primoz Roglic, who couldn’t avoid the bullet, or a colleague from the Bahrain squad who rolled over him. The result was a dislocated shoulder and spinal problems, back pain that became unbearable as the days passed, so that a few days later he had to abandon the Tour de France. The job was done though as he was the pepper of the race, the runner who broke Pogacar on the climbs to the Granon for teammate Vingegaard to win. And as much as doubt about his participation in La Vuelta, the Slovenian has worked really hard to compete in Utrecht – there will be three stages in Holland before jumping to the Basque Country – to defend his kingdom because he wants it has conquered the last three editions and wants to equal the record set by Roberto Heras from Bejarano, who scored another one, albeit with interruptions.
For two weeks, Roglic did not take the bike out of concern that the pain would not subside and on medical advice. But he always wanted to defend his crown and this Monday, asked by Dutch medium WielerFlits while cycling through the short but steep mountains of Monaco, he decided: “I’m finally back on the road”. A few minutes later, Merijn Zeeman, director of the Jumbo-Visma, said: “We are very happy that Roglic can continue to be a starter in the Vuelta after his serious injury on the tour. He didn’t have the best preparation but we have a lot of respect for how he managed to prepare. He added: “We have a balanced team that can optimally support Primoz in all areas.” Among the companions, Sepp Kuss, Robert Gesink and Chris Harper, capitals for the mountain stages, stand out, while Edoardo Affini and Rohan Dennis as companions and drivers will function on the plane.
With La Vuelta a toca, which begins on August 19, Ineos also confirmed its team, highlighting the participation of Olympic champion Richard Carapaz (he won the 2018 Giro and was second in its last edition, in addition he was third in the Tour de France of 2021 and second in La Vuelta of 2020). More wood for an edition that gathers the contenders because there will also be Giro winner Jai Hindley (by Bora-Hansgrohe, who was also second in Italy in 2020) or UAE leader João Almeida, who wants in a big round to debut on the podium. By Quick Step will be double world champion Julian Alaphilippe after his fall in the last Liege-Bastogne-Liege, alongside the ever-powerful Belgian Remco Evenepoel, who has warned he will look to the possibility of winning a stage first than the general classification. Other names, perhaps a notch down, but by no means dismissed, are veteran Nairo Quintana (from Arkéa and winner of a Vuelta and a Giro, as well as multiple draws at the Tour); Simon Yates (by Jayco and winner of La Vuelta in 2018); and names like Enric Mas and Mikel Landa (Bahrain) – alongside the tireless Alejandro Valverde, who will contest his last Vuelta because he will get off his bike at the end of the course -, Ben O’Connor (AG2R), Supermán López (Astana) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos).
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