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Primoz Roglic turned the Giro d'Italia on its head on the penultimate day of the Italian cycling race. The Slovenian crushed the competition in a climbing time trial on Monte Lussari to win the stage and take the pink leader's jersey from Geraint Thomas. Unexpected happenings aside, Roglic will win the final classification of a grand tour for the fourth time after tomorrow’s closing stage in Rome.
Roglic started his time trial relaxed. The leader of Team Jumbo-Visma then set the fastest time of all time trials on his way to victory. The Slovenian started the day 26 seconds behind but seemed to catch up on the climb. The crowd of primarily Slovenian cycling fans cheered in support of Roglic.
But fans briefly held their breath when he suffered a shifting issue and was forced off the bike. The delay seemed to shatter the 33-year-old rider's dream. However, Roglic did not despair and continued stoically on his way. At the finish line, the Slovenian appeared to be forty seconds ahead of Thomas. As a result, Roglic took the pink leader's jersey with a fourteen-second lead.
"I don't have words for it yet", Roglic stammered shortly after securing his eighth victory of the season. "This is what it's all about. Giving up is out of the question as long as there is a glimmer of hope. We saw that again today. Sometimes you lose, and sometimes you win. Today, we came out on top. I wanted to make the people here and all the fans around the world proud. That was my main goal today. Hopefully, I was able to do that. I am super proud and happy. We put all our energy into this fight and enjoyed every metre. It's special that it all came together in this beautiful place. It feels like home to me. I spent my whole childhood just a stone's throw from here."
"This is a day I will remember for the rest of my life"
Roglic claimed that amid his mechanical issues, not much crossed his mind. "I didn't think about giving up for a moment. These things happen in cycling. I kept my cool and put the chain back on. I regained my pace and went all out to the line. In the end, that was enough for this great result. A lot happened on the way to this victory. I never gave up and was surrounded by the right people; we achieved this wonderful result together. Today, I had the strength in my legs to finish it off. The fans were incredible. This is a day I will remember for the rest of my life", an emotional Roglic said.
"We have been working for this day in and day out for a very long time", a proud sports director Marc Reef said. "It was an incredible ride - a rollercoaster of emotions. Primoz was confident the whole day. During his race against the clock, we had little information about intermediate times. The finish was bizarrely exciting. We always believed in our abilities, but the competition was fierce. For Primoz to pull this off after all the setbacks is incredible. Congratulations to the whole team. Experiencing this success up close in these beautiful conditions with a sea of enthusiastic cycling fans is remarkable. The fans made a difference today. They gave Primoz such a boost that his feat could finally become a reality."
Roglic's time trial victory marks the 28th victory of the cycling season for Team Jumbo-Visma.