Why Primoz Roglic has to get rid of the control freak on his shoulder – .

Why Primoz Roglic has to get rid of the control freak on his shoulder – .

It is not the opening week of the Tour that we expected. It was not either, even more than us, the week that Primoz Roglic had planned and prepared meticulously. Whether or not he expected to win at this point, he surely didn’t think he would be going home until the first week was over.

Before pinning a number in Brittany last weekend, the Vuelta champion had only spent 15 days racing in 2021. Compare that to compatriot Tadej Pogacar’s 29, or Bauke Mollema’s huge 46.

Instead of climbing to the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he suffered a fall last year that arguably turned out to be detrimental to his Tour de France challenge, the 31-year-old headed for altitude . It was all part of a belief, increasingly prevalent in the upper echelons of professional sport, but not particularly new, that a focused period of tailored training is better preparation for the race than the race itself. .

Tour de France
Roglic abandons the Tour de France after the miserable 8th stage


In a strictly physiological sense this may be true, but it is a fact that a runner cannot win races if he does not take them at the start. It’s easy to think of the Daphine and the Tour de Suisse as purely preparatory events for the Tour, but let’s not forget that they are races, and of significant value, in themselves. Ineos Grenadiers, despite all their faults, presented himself to both, as well as the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie, gave their all and came away with victories. Primoz Roglic, not without success this season, has only added another Itzulia, the Tour des Basques, to his list. A rider of his talents could and should have much more.

The decision to steer clear of the race and put all your eggs in the Tour basket also overlooks something crucial that is true of life itself, true of sport above all, and true of no sport. more than cycling: there will always be things you can’t control.

And that’s where the beauty of cycling really lies.

“All young people should follow” – Roglic praised for his positive attitude

Most professional sports shape the world around them. Played in specially designed arenas, they build predictability, ensuring that the participants’ only opponents are their opponents – and themselves, if you want to be philosophical about it.

Cycling, on the other hand, winds around the world. Rather than seeking to eliminate the unpredictability, she is invited to participate. In planning races that take them down dangerous descents, in places dangerously close to each other and spectators, on machines capable of extraordinary speeds, in unpredictable weather conditions. in any significant degree, we stress a vulnerability of our athletes which would be anathema in any further pursuit of competition. We don’t ask them to expose themselves to chaos, we demand that they do.

Roglic’s commitment to controlling the aspects he could and completely shutting the door on those he couldn’t was so total that he practically placed chaos in his blind spot. He should have been glued to his handlebars.

This is not to blame him for the fall of stage 3, whose subsequent injuries turned out to be too heavy for him today. This is in part, however, to speculate that perhaps more time spent in the peloton could have tuned his brain to the chaotic rhythms of bike races and given him a better chance of staying on his bike.

“It’s a disaster” – Roglic crashes late in Stage 3, the Jumbo-Visma launch rescue mission

And even if you don’t buy that and choose to dismiss it as a bunch of hippie nonsense, that’s not really the point anyway.

The fact is that it is in this enormous uncertainty that we find the emotional appeal of sport, for its participants and for its spectators.

Cycling is not poker, which is a game of luck, but a game where the more skill you have, the less luck you need. By needing a successful participant to be particularly lucky, so as not to fall victim to these factors that he cannot control, it probably looks more like poker than any other sport.

And in tournament poker, a player can only win if he sits at the table prepared and expects to lose, willing to take risks, knowing that no skill can make up for the fact that his opponents are receiving better maps. To make it worth it, they must take advantage of the uncertainty of the journey, the vulnerabilities as well as the certainty of a (successful) outcome.

Primoz Roglic sought to reduce the risk of defeat by avoiding the chaos of bike races. Chaos has come for him anyway. He should have kissed her.

Nick Christian

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