How the Jumbo straightens Roglic's path to the Tour de France
Roglic descends the Galibier leading his teammates Vingegaard and Kruijswijk.
Roglic descends the Galibier leading his teammates Vingegaard and Kruijswijk.MARCO BERTORELLO (AFP)

Nothing is more predictable and as safe as Primoz Roglic in the Vuelta a España, absolute control, fair attack, devastation all around him… Three years in a row. Nothing is more volatile than Roglic himself, grandson of miners, son of a miner, ski jumper before cyclist, in the Tour de France, his obsession and his pain. One Tour, that of 2020, he lost it in the last time trial against the emerging genius of Tadej Pogacar after 19 stages of control, bonuses and fit of effort to the millimeter. In the second Tour to which he arrived thinking about victory, that of 2021, he fell on the second day, he dragged himself for a week, and the day of the devastating attack of his compatriot Pogacar again, cold and rain in the Alps, he was alone quickly, then surrounded by the big-ass sprinters, Greipel, Cavendish, and, among them, he rolled without even daring to stop to urinate, lest he fall behind.

“I follow a strange, tortuous path,” he said this winter in an interview on L’Equipe, trying to explain his apparent curse in France, the inability for Olympic time trial champion not to crash in the great French races, and only this year, and thanks to the help of his Wout van Aert, he has been able to win one, the Paris- Nice. “I fall and I get up. But that’s life for everyone.”

In the Jumbo, his team, they understand and accept it, and they want to limit the weight of drops and detours and forks to a minimum. They apply social and scientific techniques, personal development courses included in the long concentrations, of three weeks each, in height, in the Sierra Nevada or in other mountains. Sessions in which they insist that more important than victory is the path that leads to it, and those things, so that the French route of the brilliant 32-year-old Slovenian cyclist is as straight as possible, parallel to infinity, like the from the train, on the Tour how close is it (starts on July 1, Friday, in Copenhagen). And so the Slovenian’s head evolves, one who always said that his natural mentality has always been “to be alone, to never depend on anyone”.

Two months after finishing the Itzulia poorly, with severe pain in the popliteus muscle, in the back of the knee, Roglic has gotten up and, with one stage to go, leads the Critérium del Dauphiné, the last race before the Tour, after the stage of the giants Galibier and Croix de Fer that experienced the victory of the Spaniard from Movistar Carlos Verona, magnificent in the escape, at the same time as the martyrdom of its leader, Enric Mas, who was very sore after the fall he suffered on Thursday, he could not keep up with the pace of the best. The Majorcan, the great Spanish hope for the Tour, will surely not take the start of the last stage, a new alpine festival and fly to Andorra, where he will concentrate with the entire Movistar of the Tour.

The social laboratory is the races, the coupling between the three best riders of the team, with Roglic, the Dane Jonas Vingegaard, second in the Tour of Roglic’s abandonment, and the Belgian phenomenon Wout van Aert, the god of the new cycling, the same one practiced by Mathieu van der Poel, of course. “Building a team is a very delicate task and you always have to look beyond individual results”, is the motto proclaimed by Merijn Zeeman, the Dutch manager of the Jumbo, master of dosage, cook of balance. La Dauphiné is Roglic’s third stage race in 2022. Only 26 days of competition. In the Paris-Nice that he won he had Van Aert by his side; in the Basque Country, to Vingegaard; in the Dauphiné, both. Van Aert, who is good at everything, has the Slovenian and the Dane working for him the first few days: two stages and the yellow jersey; The Belgian and the Danish work for Roglic in the Alps, and he is already in yellow, and he likes it. And on the ascent to Vaujany, when Verona is already unattainable but Caruso, Gaudu, O’Connor, Haig or Tao are still close, Vingegaard accelerates to three kilometers, and Roglic finishes off one.

Everything measured, calculated. All perfect. All fruit of planning, head and technology. The trend is to compete less and train more. Coaches talk about training at height, organizing various specific blocks during the season to stimulate different metabolic adaptations that are complicated to activate and control during competition.

The Jumbo, and all the teams, use different electronic platforms to monitor even the most intimate thoughts of the cyclists. The TrainingPeaks has revolutionized cycling. By the time the cyclist crosses the finish line, all the information from the minicomputer on the bike is uploaded to the cloud, and within minutes, the performance manager is analyzing all the data: all types of watts. , heart rate, percentage of work done at the threshold in each stage, expenditure of carbohydrates and fats, and calories… Knowing this, each person’s diet is individualized. And it follows how much physiological and metabolic stress the runner has suffered and how he has responded. And with it, the next day’s race tactic is made. And the strange and winding road straightens, lights up, and Roglic flies.

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