After winning the Olympic time trial title at Tokyo 2020, Slovenia’s Roglic has added a third consecutive Vuelta a España overall win to his growing list of achievements.
Olympic champion. Tour de France runner-up. And now three-time consecutive Vuelta a España champion.
Oh, and he’s a self-professed «ex ski jumper from Slovenia, now a pro cyclist».
All that describes Primoz Roglic , who with his time trial victory in Santiago de Compostela today on the final stage of the Spanish Grand Tour becomes only the third man to win the race’s general classification three times in a row.
Roglic set the fastest time over the 33.8km from Padrón to Santiago de Compostela, winning the red jersey by 4 minutes, 42 seconds over Enric Mas. Jack Haig finished third overall.
Fabio Jakobsen won the race’s points classification, Michael Storer the mountains classification, and Gino Mäder the young riders’ classification.
The Slovenian’s overall triumph comes just over a month after he won Tokyo 2020 Olympic time trial gold at the Fuji International Speedway.
Here are five things to know about Primoz Roglic.
Primoz Roglic has completed an impressive comeback after a few crashes marred the first part of his season. The Slovenian added a third straight Vuelta a Espana title to Olympic gold in the time trial at Tokyo 2020. «We all had to work so hard to achieve good things,» the former ski jumper said.
1. Roglic began as a promising ski jumper, winning junior world gold
The young Primoz Roglic grew up in Kisovec, an old mining village, without cycling on his radar.
In Slovenia, ski jumping was far better known, with the country being home to the world-renowned Planica hill.
It was no surprise, therefore, that Roglic began in that sport – which requires having a lean frame and keeping weight down, unlike for most cyclists.
Aged just 13, Roglic took part in his first FIS-sanctioned competition . He would go on to win two FIS Continental Cup events, and team gold and silver at the Junior World Championships.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing – a serious crash at Planica in 2007 saw Roglic airlifted to hospital unconscious, although he escaped serious injury. He eventually quit ski jumping aged 21 in 2011.
2. Roglic had a bumpy transition to cycling but quickly adapted
Switching from ski jumping to cycling – two very unrelated sports – did not come easy.
Roglic once explained: «When I was a ski jumper, I was not allowed to ride the bike because it would bulk you up.»
Despite that, there were some areas of cross-over, as he added: «We did a lot of work with core strength, balance, flexibility and acrobatics. All that helps me on the bike.»
The 31-year-old began cycling professionally in 2013 and by 2016 had joined current team Jumbo-Visma, based in the Netherlands.
In his five years since joining Jumbo-Visma, Roglic has marked himself out as a strong climber and time triallist, with his Olympic gold, second-place finish in the 2020 Tour de France (after a surprise mountain time trial defeat to compatriot Tadej Pogacar ), and two Vuelta wins in 2019 and 2020 prior to this latest triumph.
3. Off the bike, teammates describe Roglic as a «fantastic person»
Roglic’s rapid rise to the top of cycling – he is often now considered among the favourites in every race he starts – is music to the ears of Jumbo-Visma, who are clearly enjoying the Slovenian’s presence.
«His development as a cyclist, [for] a former ski jumper, is phenomenal,» Jumbo-Visma sporting director Merijn Zeeman told VeloNews in 2018.
That came after Roglic won his second World Tour stage race at the Tour de Romandie, just weeks after he’d claimed his first such triumph.
«As a person, as a cyclist, and as leader of this team, he’s a fantastic person to work with.»
Roglic also come to be known in the team for drinking non-alcoholic beer to rehydrate after races.
4. Bouncebackability – Roglic’s comebacks from bumps in the road
Roglic never stays down for long whenever he suffers a setback.
A perfect example of this came last year, in 2020. Roglic looked set to claim overall victory in the Tour de France as he took a lead of 57 seconds into the penultimate stage, a 36km time trial, but Pogacar upstaged him to turn that around.
At the time, Roglic told reporters, «I want it to be different, but I can’t change it. I just need to go on. Tadej was in a different world and he definitely deserves his win so really, congratulations to him.»
However, the Slovenian bounced back barely a month and a half later, holding off Richard Carapaz – who would go on to win Tokyo 2020 road race gold – in the Spanish Grand Tour.
Fast-forward a year and once again, that ‘bouncebackability’ was on show.
Roglic suffered a crash on the third stage of the 2021 Tour de France, which hampered his race until his eventual abandonment ahead of the ninth stage.
However, he recovered in time to make it to the Tokyo 2020 Games, where he finished in the top 30 in the road race before dominating the time trial to win by over a minute.
And he has now added another Vuelta title to his impressive palmarès.
5. Primoz Roglic at the Olympics
Roglic’s triumph at Tokyo 2020 in the time trial was just the latest feather in his cap prior to his third Vuelta title.
Tokyo was the second Olympic participation for the cyclist who has spent 75 weeks as the UCI’s world number one-ranked road cyclist, who made his Olympic debut in 2016.
At the Rio 2016 Games, Roglic was in action on the first full day of Games action as he came 26th in the men’s road race, in a group just 9:38 behind gold medallist Greg van Avermaet of Belgium.
It was an impressive showing by the rider, who was then still only in his first year at World Tour level with Jumbo-Visma. Four days later, in the time trial, he finished 10th to back up a time trial win during that year’s Giro d’Italia.
Fast-forward five years, and ‘Rogla’ once again finished in the top 30 of the road race, coming home 28th in a group 6:20 behind Carapaz.
But it was in the time trial where he really shone. Departing seventh from last, Roglic rode hard and smashed his Dutch Jumbo-Visma teammate Tom Dumoulin ‘s then-leading time by a minute and one second in spectacular style to grab the lead which he would hold to the end of the race.
After winning gold, Roglic said: «I worked hard. I always tried to keep believing in it. Still, it’s me, it’s Primoz – everything is always possible every day.
«I just went out – I had nothing to lose, I just went all out from kilometre zero and fought for every kilometre and I managed to come to the finish. That was my job, and I did it good and the time said it was enough for the gold medal and I’m super pleased for that.
«It’s incredibly nice after the, let’s say hard things that happened […] to me. It paid off, all the work we put in – from my side, from my family’s side, from the people all around me.»
What next for Primoz Roglic?
There seems to be very little stopping Roglic right now.
In the immediate future, Roglic could have his sights set on winning his second Monument – after last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège – at October’s Giro di Lombardia, a race he finished seventh in in 2019.
Looking further ahead, another tilt at the much-coveted yellow jersey of Le Tour seems likely in 2022.
The Slovenian has also not competed in the Giro d’Italia since he finished third in 2019, although whether he would forgo the chance to defend his Vuelta red jersey again – and possibly become only the second man to win the Spanish tour four times – remains to be seen.
Fuente imagen: olympics.com