Roglic, favorite at Valverde’s farewell

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He leaves his fall in the Tour behind him and is “ready” to win the Vuelta four times in a row from today in Utrecht

Primoz Roglic is only interested in one race: «The next one». This is how the Slovenian spirit works. He has won the last three editions of the Vuelta and has just returned from the Tour, where he continues to face blows and disappointments. Does not matter. That’s all in the past. Roglic lost the 2020 Tour in the Planche des Belles Filles time trial against Pogacar when he was already close to victory. Days later he won Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Last year he tripped over the Grande Boucle. Intake. He got up and hung the Olympic time trial gold in Tokyo.

Today he starts the Vuelta without having participated since his retirement due to a fall in the last Tour. “There are moments of back pain, but I have recovered. I’m here and I’m done », closed. His rivals already know. Roglic wants to be the only rider with four wins in a row in this race that opens a new chapter today with a 23 kilometer team time trial in Utrecht.

The Movistar team will dedicate a new jersey to Alejandro Valverde from Murcia, the flagship of the ‘phone’ squad who, at the age of 42, will wear this new design in his final Vuelta a España starting this Friday. With a record of seven podiums and twelve stages, Valverde’s final shot starts in Utrecht, the city in the Netherlands that brings back fond memories of a Valverde who already won a round in 2009 from Dutch soil. The updated jersey retains the usual composition, but transforms its usual dark blue into white. In addition, it turns the horizontal stripes of the garment into a collection of the main hits of ‘Bala’. The signature of the Movistar team’s foremost cyclist for nearly two decades will appear on the top of the rear design. It will be worn by all riders of the team.

He will not speak of the three editions he has already won (2019, 2020 and 2021). They are history. “It’s always about the next race,” he emphasizes. He’s not too worried about the record either. Only Roberto Heras has won the Vuelta four times, three in a row. Roglic doesn’t even pay much attention to his rivals. “I don’t think about the rest, but about myself,” he says. Justly. If the Slovenian reaches his level, he is clearly the favourite.

The fall in the Tour hit two vertebrae in his back. He spent days without doing any activity. He then returned to the role. Three weeks ago, his participation in the Vuelta was still doubtful. But everyone at Jumbo trusts Roglic’s mentality. A rock.

The list of opponents is long, although in reality it is Richard Carapaz who stands out the most. Second in the last Giro, he has a great version of the Ineos team at his disposal, with young talents such as Carlos Rodríguez, Lucas Plapp, Pavel Vivakov and Ethan Hayter. Carapaz will leave the British squad at the end of this campaign to join Education First. And you never know how it affects. The winner of the Giro, the Australian Jai Hindley, also has a solid block in the Bora, with Higuita and Kelderman, albeit without Buchmann.

In addition to Roglic, there are four other winners of the Vuelta: Nibali, Froome, Valverde and Simon Yates. The first two don’t count. The Murcian comes at the age of 42 to receive the tribute from the fans at his retirement and also to fight for a podium. “It would be the milk,” he says. And Yates, who fell apart in the Giro, has shown a high level in the races leading up to the Vuelta.

There is more. Remco Evenepoel, overwhelming in the Clásica de San Sebastián, has his pending subject in the Grand Tours. “Winning one or two stages would be a great result,” he hides. He wants more: to know his limit in a long distance race. Superman López arrives spurred on by his director at Astana, Martinelli, who reminds him that he is no longer a child and that trains pass by. Almeida, a model of resistance, aspires to the stage. In the Spanish round there are no big mountain stages and he is adapting well to the time trial. In his team, the UAE, Juan Ayuso (19 years old) is growing by leaps and bounds. Carlos Rodríguez (21) and he comes now Valverde is leaving.

Source: La Verdad

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