Only time will tell whether Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) can last the full three weeks at La Vuelta after a punishing 2020 season, says Sean Kelly.
The Slovenian’s season started with the national championships in June and has seen him race a packed schedule, including the Tour de France, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, World Championships and now the Vuelta.
Roglic clawed back time on leader Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) on Stage 8 as a powerful final kilometre saw him take victory. He is now 13 seconds adrift of the Ecuadorian in GC.
But memories of his Tour collapse will still be fresh, with the 30-year-old cracking on the last competitive stage of the Tour in September, ceding the yellow jersey to compatriot Tadej Pogacar.
So can he avoid a repeat as he attempts to defend his title in Spain?
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“We talked during the Tour de France, would he be able to keep it going? Now it’s a bigger question to keep it going in this Vuelta for three weeks,” said Kelly on The Breakaway.
“You can only take it day by day. I don’t think the riders know, the way the season has been, not having any competition for a long time.
“The big thing is they had five months plus of rest [due to lockdown] and you’re training, but you don’t have that stress of racing – the mental stress and also physical. They were just ticking over for a long time.
“I think a lot of the riders will be able to keep it going and Roglic is hoping he’ll keep it going all the way in this Vuelta.
“As a rider, it’s totally different this year. It’s not like a normal season where you know with your coach what you need to do to be able to carry right through the season.
“It’s been a big upheaval for everybody so we’re in the unknown. When there’s a situation like that, you just get on with it, go for it and take it day by day.”
The peloton will enjoy a couple of easier days on Thursday and Friday as the sprinters get a belated chance before the week finishes with two more trips to the mountains.
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