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AFP
September 17, 2019

Roglic rules the Vuelta in a first for Slovenia

Sports

AFP
September 17, 2019

MADRID: Taciturn Primoz Roglic was overlooked by his team for the Tour de France but he had the last word when avoiding any final day mishap on the Vuelta a Espana’s ceremonial ride into Madrid on Sunday to become the first Slovenian to win one of cycling’s three Grand Tours.

The former ski jump champion had assured victory on Saturday, only having to complete the 21st stage for the biggest success of his career. Veteran Spaniard Alejandro Valverde was second overall, 2min 16sec behind, with Roglic’s compatriot Tadej Pogacar in third, a further 22sec away.

The three-week race concluded in a sprint on the Paseo del Prado in the heart of the Spanish capital won by Fabio Jakobsen. Roglic crossed the line arm in arm with his teammates, climbing the podium draped in his national flag, his habitual implacable features replaced by a broad grin.

Fourth in last year’s Tour de France and third in this year’s Giro d’Italia, Roglic had lined up as one of the favourites to succeed absent defending champion Simon Yates and he did not disappoint. A member of Slovenia’s 2007 junior world ski jump champion team had seized control of the overall standings by pulverising his rivals on the individual time-trial in stage 10.

Surrounded by a powerful Jumbo team, Roglic then systematically demoralised pretenders on the mountains. Nairo Quintana came close to grabbing the lead. But Roglic survived the scare to win.

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