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Roglič was en-route to taking another small bite out of Remco Evenepoel’s overall lead after attacking on a small climb before the finish of stage 16. The Slovenian was in sight of the line when he appeared to make contact with Fred Wright — who was among the four riders that had followed Roglič’s attack — and went tumbling to the ground.
Though he was able to ride across the line and took eight seconds from Evenepoel, his injuries proved too much and the team decided to pull him from the race.
“Primož is not feeling well, otherwise he would be at the start. He was in a lot of pain, he had a bad night, and with the amount of pain this morning it was decided to not start,” Jumbo-Visma sport director Addy Engels said at the start of stage 17. “When he came to the bus, it was very hard for him. It was more like he was mentally broken. For sure, there was no physical signs of concussion and later in the evening he was also ok.
“After the stage, we went to the hotel and the doctor did the first checks and then this morning they went to the hospital for the scans, and they showed no fracture.”
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Roglič had a mixed start to the Vuelta. It started well with Jumbo-Visma claiming the opening team time trial and Roglič taking victory on the uphill finish of stage 4, but he struggled in the opening mountain stages and gave away time to Evenepoel.
Things started to turn around with a strong individual time trial at the start of the second week. He took a big chunk out of Evenepoel’s lead with a stinging attack on Saturday’s summit finish on Sierra de La Pandera. He reeled in the Belgian a little further the following day and his attack into Tomares on Tuesday was an indication that he hadn’t given up on the race win yet.
It’s another blow to Roglič after he crashed out of the Tour de France earlier this year.
“It’s incredibly hard, of course. He was not done yet in this race, which he showed yesterday,” Engels said. “Of course, it’s a big blow when you crash out of the Tour last year, you crash out of the Tour last year, and then you also crash out of the Vuelta at this moment in the race, still fighting for victory. It’s mentally incredibly hard to get over.”
Focus now turns to recovery for Roglič after another big tumble. Once he’s had time to rest, the team will make a decision on whether he will race again in 2022 or rest up in preparation for the 2023 season.
“Now it’s too early. It will depend on what will happen in the next days and weeks and how he will recover but it’s too early to say,” Engels said.
With no plan-B for the overall classification, Jumbo-Visma now turns its attention to the stage hunting.
“The GC is over, but we still have a couple of days. Normally, these days will be decided in a breakaway. We will try to be in that fight, but it’s not easy. We’ve been on the road for two and a half weeks, always with one goal and these guys now have to switch,” he said. “They are really flexible, but sometimes it takes a while to be able to make the switch. We don’t have too much time anymore, so hopefully they can, and we will see what we can do and try to fight for a stage result.
“We won the team time trial, we had four guys in red, we have been fighting until today for the GC. Apart from what happened yesterday, it has been a good Vuelta, but this is now a big blow and we will try to make the most of it.”