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Another stage race trophy for the collection, a confirming comeback from surgery, and a bunch of bragging rights over Giro d’Italia rival Remco Evenepoel.
That’s what Primož Roglič took away from Barcelona with him Sunday after he won the Volta a Catalunya.
“It’s incredible, after his injuries and so long off the bike, then to come back and win two WorldTour races in a row,” Jumbo-Visma director Merijn Zeeman told Cycling Pro Net. “We didn’t expect this.”
Also read: Roglič snags victory in Spain
Roglič beat back a bullish ride by Evenepoel in the final days of Catalan racing to bound toward his Giro d’Italia A-race with a 100 percent sweep of 2023.
A hat-trick of stage wins and narrow GC victory and at Tirreno-Adriatico before another prestigious victory Sunday sees the Slovenian mark a pristine-clean comeback from shoulder surgery in his first races since last September.
“It was good for me to do Tirreno first. I did some super nice steps, also this week,” Roglič said after he had stalked Evenepoel through the final weekend to secure the overall.
“I’m in the process of building up and I need this kind of thing to improve and be good.”
‘These new kids on the block, they attack on every climb … we don’t have to follow that game’
The Volta a Cataunya made for a mouthwatering preview of the rapidly approaching Giro d’Italia.
Roglič and world champion Evenepoel kick toward the Italian tour with points to prove and joint-favorites’ status.
While Evenepoel is on a mission to back up his sensational 2022 season, Roglič wants to regain a toehold in the Jumbo-Visma hierarchy and see grand tour success for the first time since the 2021 Vuelta a España.
At 33 years old, Roglič slipped from the grand tour spotlight with two DNFs in 2022, while his Jumbo-Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard reigned supreme at the Tour de France.
A spicy showdown with Evenepoel last week in Spain saw Roglič kick to two mountaintop sprint wins and shadow a battery of attacks from a rider 10 years his younger.
Jumbo-Visma vows to race its own rhythm at the Giro this May in the face of any attacking onslaught.
“These new kids on the block, they attack on every climb they go to, but we don’t always have to follow that game,” Zeeman said. “But Remco makes the race, he makes it a nice sport to watch, it’s good for cycling. He’s already good, but he’ll only become better.”
Roglič looked to have the upper hand in Catalunya as both he and Evenepoel claim to be “not yet 100 percent.”
The Giro’s two toppers will now tune up their grand tour form at altitude ahead of the Abruzzo Partenza on May 6, with Evenepoel making a brief foray into Ardennes.
But first for Roglič?
“Holidays uh,” he said Sunday.
“Everything’s going perfect, so we can enjoy,” he added.