At age 33, Primož Roglič cannot be considered a youngster, cycling-wise of course, but it should always be kept in mind that he first took up this sport no more than 10 years ago, when he gave up ski jumping to pursue his dream of becoming a professional rider. Not only has he succeeded, but he has also become one of the strongest cyclists of his generation, not only for stage races but also for the toughest Classics, one of the few still capable of holding off the bursts of the new generation.
He has a career total of 72 victories, including three overall wins at the Vuelta a España, an Olympic time trial title, a Liège-Bastogne-Liège, stages in all three Grand Tours, two Tirreno-Adriatico, two Tours of the Basque Country, a UAE Tour, a Milan-Turin and plenty of other successes that would fill a protocol sheet. Unfortunately for him, however, he is often more widely remembered for the resounding defeat he suffered on the final stage of the 2020 Tour de France – on the slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles, to compatriot Tadej Pogačar – than for his many victories.
Since then, he looks for revenge every time he tackles a three-week stage race, and the Giro d’Italia 2023 seems to be a perfect fit. The Slovenian emerged from a troubled winter in which he had to cope with his long-standing shoulder problem, with surgery keeping him out of the saddle for several weeks. However, on his return, at Tirreno-Adriatico last March, he immediately claimed three stages and then took home the overall victory, which he also did at his second – and so far last – race of the season, the Volta a Catalunya, where he won two stages and the general classification, ahead of Remco Evenepoel.
That’s right, Evenepoel, with whom a clash of titans is set to take place over the next three weeks. Their feud began last year on the roads of the Vuelta, won by Remco, with Roglič being forced to retire just when he was catching seconds on seconds from his rival and a splendid head-to-head duel was in sight in the final days. The Jumbo-Visma rider took a little revenge a few weeks ago in Catalonia, managing to get ahead of his opponent mainly thanks to time bonuses, as they never managed to break away from each other over the many climbs. Thus, the Giro winner will pretty much take it all!
Roglič’s history with the Giro is rather short, as he has only participated twice, but quite intense, nonetheless. The first time he came to the Corsa Rosa was in 2016 and Primož was not yet the rider he is today, as he was on his absolute debut in a Grand Tour. Despite that, he made sure fans and rivals would remember his name, especially in the time trial, coming close to the Maglia Rosa in the opening round at Apeldoorn – when he was beaten by just a few hundredths by none other than Tom Dumoulin – before going on to win the Greve in Chianti time trial rather comfortably. In 2019, however, he came back to Italy aiming for overall victory, which seemed to be within his grasp after great performances in the opening time trial to Madonna di San Luca in Bologna – thanks to which he wore the Maglia Rosa for five days – and in the San Marino time trial. However, the excessive mutual marking with Vincenzo Nibali opened the door to the “third wheel”, Richard Carapaz, who ended up winning that Giro, and Roglič, dropped in the third week, took home 3rd place overall, just ahead of Mikel Landa.