“Today I had the legs for winning and it went well. I made it thanks to this crowd. I’ll never forget the support of all these people.”
– Primoz Roglic, winner of stage 20 of the 106th Giro d’Italia…
Photos by Stefano Sirotti
With one more stage to go the Slovenian from Jumbo-Visma leads the GC for the first time in 2023.
Geraint Thomas finished second in the epic uphill time trial encounter and relinquished the pink jersey, surrendering 40 seconds to Roglic and the overall lead in the Giro by 14 seconds.
Things didn’t entirely go according to plan for the stage winner. A mechanical taxed him time but this time the misfortune didn’t cost him victory.
“My chain dropped but I put it back on,” he said of an incident on the brutally steep path leading to Monte Lussari. Curiously, Roglic also found a benefit from the moment when it seemed he could miss the opportunity to become the first Slovenian Giro champion.
“It gave me a bit of a free rest.
“I had to restart. Obviously, I had enough to keep it going and I was lucky enough that someone was there to push me because it was so steep.”
A spare bike was by his side, on the shoulder of a team mechanic who had been following on a motorbike in what was a time trial like no other. But Roglic fixed the mechanical himself and remounted his original climbing bike, continuing after getting assistance from the mechanic which allowed him to reclip into the pedals and set off again up the steep gradient.
“I had goose bumps and tears in my eyes when I saw all these people cheering for me. I didn’t care so much about the result. I’m incredibly proud to be the rider they came here for.”
The mountain turned into a stadium for a day and Slovenian fans came out in force in the hope of seeing Roglic create a bit of sporting history.
There is still a stage to go on Sunday but the 14 second advantage over the 37-year-old Welshman who slipped out of the maglia rosa is considered by all to be enough for the celebrations to begin before the arrival in Rome.
Below is a gallery of images by Stefano Sirotti capturing the dramatic moments when Roglic raced ahead of Thomas to take over the lead of the Giro’s general classification and send the Slovenian fans into rapture. The party got started at Monte Lussari and when it concludes is anyone’s guess.
Tomorrow he’ll seal the deal and we can expect to see the blanket of Slovenian flags that were such a feature of stage 20 out in force for the finale in the Italian capital.
Roglic is the winner of stage 20, and the leader after 3,230.8 kilometres and three weeks of racing… there are another 126 kilometres still to go and while 14 seconds isn’t much of a buffer it will surely be enough to give Jumbo-Visma’s leader his fourth Grand Tour victory.