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Will He Stay or Will He Go: Where Will ‘King’ Roglič Be Next Year?

By Siegfried Mortkowitz

Questions are swirling around Primož Roglič as he and Jonas Vingegaard race in the Vuelta a España to try and make Jumbo-Visma the first team to ever win the Grand Slam of Grand Tours in the same calendar year. The questions concern the team’s strategy of having two Grand Tour winners as co-leaders in the race (Who is the primary leader? When will that be decided?) and especially Roglič’s future with the team.

The team questions first arose after a story in the Escape Collective that began, “If Primož Roglič  wants another run at the Tour de France, he surely can’t stay at Jumbo-Visma,” and then went on to say that there were ongoing talks between the 33-year-old Slovenian and Lidl-Trek. That team has seen its budget increase exponentially and has been on a rider shopping spree, bringing in former Giro winner Tao Geoghegan Hart and this year’s surprise Giro points classification winner Jonathan Milan, among others.

Without confirming that there had been contact between the two sides, Lidl-Trek manager Luca Guarcilena was naturally enthusiastic about having the three-time Vuelta champion and this year’s Giro winner on his side. “A rider with his palmarés and racing craft would really align with the vision we have for the team,” he said. “We have a lot of young riders with a ton of potential and we also have great momentum going right now, so it’s clear someone like him can elevate a team.” However, he added, “This is all hypothetical, as we know Primož has a contract for next year with Jumbo.” In fact, Roglič’s contract runs to the end of 2025.

Jumbo-Visma head Ruchard Plugge was quick to put a damper on the possibility of Roglič leaving. “Let Primož go? That would be very bad, he is our king,” he told Het Nieuwsblad, “I think it’s a nonsense story.”

But the fact remains that “King” Roglič is still very keen on winning the Tour, having been denied in 2020, when he faltered in the ITT on the penultimate stage and was overtaken by Tadej Pogačar, and again in 2021, when a stage-3 crash forced him to abandon 6 stages later, and in 2022, when another crash forced him to abandon again later in the race – but not before he helped Vingegaard outfox Pogačar to win his first Tour yellow jersey. And it is also self-evident that as long as Vingegaard remains with the team and stays fit, he will be leader in the Tour, no matter what Plugge maintains.

Primož Roglič
Roglič at the 2023 La Vuelta. © Profimedia

“Once we know the 2024 [Tour de France] course, we will see from the team what our chance is of winning,” he told Het Nieuwsblad. “That can be with two, if necessary three leaders.” That is hard to believe, given Vingegaard’s performance in winning this year’s Tour by an incredible 7:29 over Pogačar.

But you can’t blame the Jumbo-Visma chief for doing whatever he can to keep from losing Roglič, who has been one of the best riders of this century and is having another wonderful year, as one of his Vuelta rivals pointed out. “Now look at Primož,” Remco Evenepoel told journalists before the start of the Vuelta. “He has won every race he started this year. With the exception of the Vuelta a Burgos, these were all World Tour races. When you talk about regularity, you should always say Roglič.”

Including individual stages, the Slovenian has recorded 77 wins in his career, including the 4 Grand Tours and 9 other major stage races, such as Paris-Nice (2022), Tirreno-Adriatico twice (2019 and this year), the Tour de Romandie twice (2018, 2019) and the Critérium du Dauphiné (2022). He has also won 8 single-day races, including Liège–Bastogne–Liège (2020) and Milano-Torino (2021). He has all the skills needed to be a dominant GC rider, as he is one of the best time trialers and one of the top climbers in the world.

Roglič’s main problem has been his bike handling, as he seems to crash considerably more often than his main Grand Tour rivals. He has already crashed on this year’s Vuelta, when he and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) went down after a UAE Team Emirates rider hit the pavement in front of them. It remains to be seen if the effects of that crash and the minor injuries he suffered will hamper his ability to compete and therefore make Vingegaard the de facto team leader in the race. Just as we can only speculate if Roglič will honor his contract with Jumbo-Visma and stay with the team until the end of 2025, or if he will jump ship to try and win the Tour de France with another team before it is too late.

After announcing earlier this year, following his dramatic Giro victory, that he would skip the Tour de France and ride in the Vuelta, Roglič was asked if he would consider changing teams to get a better shot at winning the race. “The main thing for me is to achieve the goals that I still lack,” he said. “So far I have been getting all the support I wanted. So I don’t see any problems going forward. But when we can no longer achieve these goals…”

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