Primož Roglič Eyes Redemption, But Can He Still Win a Major Race This Year?

82nd paris nice 2024 stage 6
Can Roglič Still Win a Major Race This Year?Alex Broadway - Getty Images

The WorldTour racing season is heating up, with finalized schedules and start lists unfolding for the big races ahead—but 2024 seems to be the year of crashes and injuries that have sidelined many favorites from the pre-Tour de France action.

In March, a massive crash at Dwars door Vlaanderen claimed a few favorites, including Wout van Aert of Visma-Lease a Bike, Biniam Girmay of Intermarché-Wanty, and Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven of Lidl-Trek. Then, in April, an unfortunate crash at Itzulia Basque Country saw Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike), Primož Roglič (Bora-hansgrohe), Jay Vine (UAE Team Emirates), and Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step) abandon the race due to injuries.

And, just today, Roglič and Evenepoel were again involved in another crash in what became a neutralized Stage 5 of the Critérium du Dauphiné—an eight-day stage race in France that many riders attend in preparation for the Tour.

Following his dramatic exit from Visma-Lease a Bike, the Slovenian now rides with BORA–hansgrohe in pursuit of a Tour de France victory. However, the 34-year-old had only grazed the podium twice before starting the Dauphiné, with a third place on a mountainous Stage 7 of Paris-Nice and a win during the 10-kilometer time trial of Stage 1 of Itzulia Basque Country.

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Dario Belingheri - Getty Images

But Roglič, who won the Dauphiné in 2022, seems to be turning his luck around. He took second place behind Magnus Cort of Uno-X Mobility on Stage 2, followed by tenth place in a hilly Stage 3, and third place in the 32-kilometer pan-flat time trial of Stage 4, which Evenepoel won. Now, Roglič sits in third place in the GC, thirty-nine seconds behind the Belgian.

The Dauphiné is Roglič’s final race before the Grand Depart in Florence and should prove to be a key indicator of his chances of winning his first Tour de France. However, the Tour will bring new challenges and fierce competition from cycling stars like the 2023 champion and former teammate Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), who is eyeing a Giro-Tour double.

While Evenepoel is currently in the yellow jersey after a null Stage 5, the top step of the Critérium du Dauphiné is still certainly up for grabs, considering the stages ahead.

Roglič and Evenepoel remain strong contenders for the final podium. Still, they also must contend with Matteo Jorgenson of Visma-Lease a Bike, winner of the 2024 Paris-Nice, along with breakout star Derek Gee, who sits fourth in the GC. Additionally, Jorgenson’s teammate, Sepp Kuss, winner of the 2023 Vuelta a España, has been playing it safe so far, as Visma-Lease a Bike, perhaps more than any other team, needs healthy, uninjured riders if they want to bring the heat to UAE Team Emirates come July. Unfortunately, following today’s crash, Dylan van Baerle, with a broken collarbone, and Steven Kruisjswijk, with a hip fracture, have abandoned the race.

Meanwhile, Roglič and Evenepoel’s squads remain intact. Aleksandr Vlasov and Jai Hindley support the Slovenian, while Evenepoel counts on Mikel Landa and Ilan Van Wilder, all of who could play essential support roles in the coming mountain stages.

If a win isn’t in the cards for Roglič at either the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de France, what’s left for him?

If victory eludes him in France, Roglič may turn his focus to La Vuelta a España in August. Having won the Spanish tour three consecutive times in 2019, 2020, and 2021, La Vuelta remains a viable and significant opportunity for the Slovenian to reclaim his winning form. In 2022, Evenepoel clinched the victory, and last year, Roglič’s then-teammate Kuss won amid significant tension. And with Vingegaard’s likely presence at the Tour, the decision will hinge on the competition’s intensity.

Evenepoel’s Credentials and Tour de France Debut

Evenepoel, who broke his right clavicle and scapula in the Basque crash, is now healed and back racing. Following his win in Stage 4’s time trial, his performance in the summit finishes of Stages 6, 7, and 8 will be closely watched, as will how his team, traditionally strong in one-day classics, competes against established stage-race teams like BORA, Visma, and INEOS Grenadiers.

However, this year will mark the Belgian’s debut at the Tour, and earlier this year, he expressed his thoughts to GCN: “I put guys like Vingegaard, Pogačar, and Roglič one step higher than myself, but purely for ourselves, we know what is in the body and what can come out. It’s just time to ride the Tour; I will be 24 in two weeks. Every year you skip the Tour, there is one less. I am now in my sixth year as a professional, and it is time to discover the Tour. Mentally and physically, I am ready.”

Following the Tour, Evenepoel has an ambitious schedule that includes the Olympic time trial (July 27), the Olympic road race (August 3), the World Time Trial Championships in Zurich (September 22), and the World Championships Road Race in Zurich (September 29). It’s almost certain he’ll secure a top-step victory at least once after the Tour wraps up.

The remaining stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné promise to be a thrilling preview of what’s to come in July. As Roglič seeks redemption and Evenepoel aims to solidify his comeback, their performances in this grueling eight-day race will be telling. It’s a race that will answer burning questions: Who’s bounced back stronger? Who’s ready to challenge Pogačar and Vingegaard? Whoever emerges victorious will carry immense momentum into the world’s greatest cycling showdown, setting the stage for an unforgettable Tour de France.

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