In a year of new talent in cycling, a former world junior champion ski jumper won the last Grand Tour.
Primoz Roglic, a 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion, won the Vuelta a Espana, becoming the first Slovenian to capture a Grand Tour. He prevailed by 2 minutes, 16 seconds over Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde after Sunday’s final stage, a largely ceremonial ride into Madrid.
“Not much words to say about it,” Roglic said in a speech atop the podium. “See you next races.”
Roglic, 29, became the fifth straight first-time Grand Tour champion dating to Geraint Thomas‘ 2018 Tour de France title.
Roglic benefited from Thomas and other stars like Chris Froome skipping the Vuelta, but he also had the credentials, having finished fourth in the 2018 Tour and third in this year’s Giro d’Italia.
Valverde deserves acclaim, too, having, at age 39, made his ninth Grand Tour podium and seventh at the Vuelta. Valverde, the reigning world road race champion, has gone 16 years between his first and most recent Vuelta podium. He also had a record-breaking 19th Grand Tour top 10, according to Gracenote.
Then there’s third-place finisher Tadej Pogacar, a 20-year-old Slovenian who became the youngest Grand Tour podium finisher since 1974.
Roglic, who suffered this scary crash before leaving ski jumping, joined Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and Colombian Egan Bernal as this year’s Grand Tour winners. All ride for different teams.
Roglic is with Jumbo-Visma, which also includes this year’s Tour de France third-place finisher Steven Kruijswijk and will include, starting in 2020, 2018 Tour de France runner-up Tom Dumoulin.
Kruijswijk abandoned the Vuelta with a knee injury in the fourth stage. Dumoulin did not start the Vuelta.
The road cycling season continues with the world championships in Yorkshire, Great Britain, later this month.
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