TIGNES, France (VN) – You have to feel good for Primož Roglič.
The Slovenian disconnected the 2021 Tour on Sunday, just too bruised and bruised to continue.
His heavy crash in Stage 3 was too hard to endure, even for a tough rider like him. It was one thing to limit damage in an hour-long time trial, but the long stages, bumpy roads and brutal climbs turned out to be too far a mountain for the proud all-rounder Jumbo-Visma.
It was a sad chapter for his otherwise spectacular rise in the WorldTour peloton.
Roglič came to cycling late – remember, he was a ski jumper! – and he crossed the peloton like an asteroid. He joined the WorldTour in 2016 and soared in the standings.
Read also : What’s next for Roglič and Jumbo-Visma?
Grand Tour races suit him like a glove and he has won stages on his debut at the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, respectively. In 2018, with his fearless attacks and stunning time trials, he quickly became a favorite in every big lap he started.
An absolute victory in the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Vuelta a España, coupled with a third place in the Giro 2109, confirmed his credentials on the grand tour.
In 2020, he looked set to become the next big winner of the Tour de France.
Then he – and everyone else – rushed straight at the unstoppable force otherwise known as Tadej Pogačar.
Primoz Roglic will not take the start in today’s stage @LeTour. He suffers too much from his injuries.
Recover quickly @rogla 🍀
-Jumbo-Visma cyclist team (@JumboVismaRoad) July 4, 2021
Tour 2021 is still in its early stages, and there is no guarantee that Pogačar will win in Paris, but what is clear is that Roglič will have to wait until 2022 for another shot at the yellow.
By then, Pogačar will be a year stronger and wiser, and Roglič, who will be 32 in October, will be a year older.
This begs the question: will Roglič ever win the Tour?
Read also: Sepp Kuss unleashed in the mountains
Roglič’s arrival seemed timely. In 2018, the Chris Froome era was coming to an end and Pogacar was still in high school. The Tour seemed destined to enter one of those transition periods, with several unique winners.
Indeed, Thomas and Egan Bernal won back-to-back yellow jerseys, and the time was on Roglič’s side.
Jumbo-Visma brought the strongest team to the 2020 Tour, and it looks like they have the strongest rider.
Of course, we all know what happened on last year’s Tour.
Primož Roglič after losing the yellow jersey in the time trial for stage 20 of the Tour de France 2020 (Photo by Christophe Petit Tesson – Pool / Getty Images) @cyclingweekly #TDF2020 pic.twitter.com/tXqdLirgxW
– AbdullaFaqihi (@AbdullaFaqihi) September 20, 2020
Roglič suffered the cycling version of a ‘death agony’ ski jumping accident on the penultimate stage, and gave up three weeks of near-perfect racing in the final time trial of what remains one of the most spectacular finals of the Tour.
Roglič, however, seemed to be moving forward.
Rather than let his Tour crumble, he did what every true champion does and got back to racing. The victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and at La Vuelta last fall revealed his unwavering determination.
We’ll never know what would have happened if he hadn’t crashed in Stage 3, but his exit means one less chance at yellow.
There are only a limited number of bullets in the cartridge in a sports career – just ask Chris Froome about that.
With Pogacar appearing almost limitless and Bernal waiting behind the scenes for a comeback in 2022, not to mention a slew of young riders awaiting their turn, Roglič’s window to Tour glory may narrow.
“Today, I had the opportunity to take the time. Attacking is the best defense.
Tadej Pogacar left his rivals in shock with a massive move during the 8th stage of the Tour de France.
With only Wout van Aert in the running, can anyone stop Pogacar?#tdf2021https://t.co/4OFHS4Kjmh
– VeloNews (@velonews) July 3, 2021
Barring a disaster, Pogacar will only grow stronger as he reaches his physical peak over the next five years. He is already the best climber and almost the best if not the best time trial of the peloton.
For 2022, UAE Team Emirates will return with an even stronger squad, with a few brawlers to protect Pogacar’s flanks on the flats.
At 32, Roglič still has some good years ahead of him, no doubt about it.
Racers often win the Tour in their early 30s – Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas all won at 32 – and Cadel Evans won Australia’s first and only yellow jersey ten years ago at 34 .
Of all the current favorites, Roglič remains the most versatile. As he revealed at the start of this Tour, he can compete explosively with Pogacar on the line, in the climbs and be close in the time trials.
Yet Pogacar quickly established itself as a class of its own.
The big question for any top runner is whether they have exploited their potential. Can Roglič get better? Probably not. He’s likely to have peaked in the 2020 Tour, and Pogačar is just better genetically wired to win big tours.
The peloton may well be entering the Pogacar era – some say we are already there – and if so, Roglič and everyone else could be on the sidelines for the next few years.
Of course, everyone will continue to fight and scratch. This is what they are paid for.
And luck goes both ways. Maybe Roglič’s bad luck in 2021 will be Pogacar’s next year.
Roglič better hurry. Pogacar is not waiting for anyone.