He was interviewed by Nieuwsblad:
Primož Roglič is the top favorite at the start of the Tour of Lombardy: “Sometimes I feel sorry for Evenepoel and Van Aert”
Wat kan Primoz Roglic (31) niet? De jongste tweeënhalve maand werd hij achtereenvolgens olympisch kampioen tijdrijden, won hij de Vuelta en was hij de beste in twee Italiaanse semiklassiekers. Ruim voldoende om hem tot de grote favoriet voor de Ronde van Lombardije te bombarderen. Al weet hij nu...
What can Primoz Roglic (31) not do? In the last two and a half months he became Olympic time trial champion, he won the Vuelta and was the best in two Italian semi-classics. More than enough to make him the big favorite for the Tour of Lombardy. Although he already knows that he has to keep an eye on one man more than ever. “Evenepoel”, Roglic laughs. “You never know when it will start. He will attack at the start in Como soon.”
Sometimes life can be simple. A simple e-mail to Jumbo-Visma, whether Roglic might have some time for an interview, and a day later the Olympic time trial champion sits down comfortably at our table. He doesn't mind at all, we understand. “At this time of the season, that is possible. The year is almost over. In a week like this I live from course to course. A lot of training is no longer necessary.”
Your performance is clearly not affected. Three stages in Paris-Nice in the spring, an Olympic title in the summer and a win in the Vuelta and the autumn has just started when you already win the Tour of Emilia and Milan-Turin. It has not been that long since lap riders like Armstrong pulled the plug after the Tour. Where do you get that energy?
“ Good question. It's not like I have one miracle trick. Somehow I have no trouble staying motivated. I feel good, I'm still eager and I'm having fun. That is the most important. And my body still allows it. Maybe one day it will be different and I will have to focus on one specific goal. That is not the case for now.”
With Marc Lamberts you have a Belgian coach. He apparently does a good job.
“He is super important to me. Without him I would never be the rider I am today. He has been training me since I came to Lotto-Jumbo in 2016. Not many people know me better. Even though we don't speak every day, not even every week. That's not necessary. We know what we have in common.”
But even him can still surprise you. After your disappointing Olympic road race, he advised against riding the time trial. But who won gold there?
(laughs) “I like nothing better than to surprise him. It wasn't the first time. I tell him that every now and then. Marc sometimes looks too much at numbers and graphs. But the urge, the hunger to win, you can't measure that with a wattage meter or some software program. Although I could understand him at the Games. The history is well known: I had fallen on my tailbone a few weeks earlier in the Tour and had to give up. I still had that problem in Tokyo. Cycling was no problem, but just sitting still hurt a lot. The problem was that before the road trip I had taken the bus for three hours to the start, after which I had been waiting in the bus for another two hours. Always on a seat. Result: the race had barely started when I got cramps in my back. I had to get off three times. I was crying on my bike.
Another compliment from your Belgian trainer: nothing is too much for Primoz Roglic. Sometimes you send your data at 12 noon and it turns out that you have already trained for seven hours.
“That was before the Games. In view of the jet lag, I wanted to adapt. Then I got up at four o'clock, waited a little longer and at five I was on my way. That is the advantage of living in Monaco. Everything is lit. Plus, if you're back at 12 noon, you've got the whole day ahead of you. Nice.”
Is Marc Lamberts one of the people who taught you that you can also win one day races? About three years ago you were still a pure round rider, today you are favorite for Lombardy.
“He certainly played a big part in that. Even though I had known for a long time that I had to be able to do this. The problem with one day games is that they are all so specific. You have to ride them a few times first to know what it takes to win. That still bothers me sometimes. I still haven't ridden twenty Monuments.”
Super time trialist, good in stage races and now also in one-day races: looks familiar. Do you sometimes talk to your teammate Van Aert which of you is the most all-round?
(laughs) “No. Maybe we should do that sometime. He is such a nice guy . It is a pleasure to ride with him in the team. But to answer your question: I think he is even more all-round. Wout can also ride cyclo-cross like the best, while I've never even done that. (thinks) I should really give that a try.”
You were there at the World Cup in Leuven. How about his immense favorite role there?
“First let me say this: what-a-World Cup. That people, that crowd, that screaming. crazy . I only came to Belgium 36 hours before the start. Way too late. I knew I didn't stand a chance (Roglic was 48th, ed.) . But I had watched the World Time Trial World Championship on TV a week earlier. There were already rows of people from start to finish. I didn't want to miss that. Besides, it's only because people shouted at me that I've reached the finish."
Yet there was disappointment in Belgium: Van Aert had not become world champion.
“Sometimes I feel sorry for him. And with Evenepoel too. Expectations in Belgium are always so high. In that respect I am lucky in Slovenia. Everything has to do with tradition. Slovenia is a country of winter sports. What young cyclists in Belgium know, young skiers in Slovenia have: also a huge pressure.”
“Besides, you are spoiled. In Belgium they are no longer happy with a second or third place. It should always be the best of the best. Look at Wout in the time trial. I've been at home with my family in front of the TV screaming for him to win. And what does it matter in the end? A few seconds. But that's not enough for him anymore. That is a problem. Even if it doesn't really matter. Even without a win at the World Cup or in Roubaix, Van Aert remains by far the best rider in one-day races of the entire peloton.”
In Belgium, the question is silently raised whether he should be allowed to aim for a big round.
(blows) “You have to ask him yourself. The fact is, he can do anything. But above all, he should do what he likes. And if I can still recommend a Grand Tour, then take the Tour right away. Less long and steep climbs than the Vuelta. (laughs) But now I am putting even more pressure on myself. Soon you will write: Roglic will ride the Tour next year in the service of Van Aert .”
Another rider who carries sky-high expectations: Remco Evenepoel.
“While he is so young. I've said it before: at his age I didn't even ride a bike. I was 23 when I started racing. But you can't ignore it: unbelievable how good he is."
Is it true that this young generation has created a new style of racing? Never have prices been broken open so early as in recent times.
"Absolute. Every generation adds something to the sport and this is clearly their contribution. Unbelievable how hard it is racing. And especially from where they start each time. I'm looking forward to Saturday. (grins) Maybe Evenepoel is already starting in (starting place, ed.) Como.”
Will he soon be one of your favorites?
"Absolute. There are still some. Nowadays you can name up to fifteen names that can win in every race – another reason why there is such an open race. But Evenepoel is the guy to watch. The man to watch. If he turns on, you can go all out. Then the line may still be so far, you know he can keep it up. He has already shown that enough.”