By: J.S., STA
Rider Primož Roglič has outclassed the competition by more than a minute in the men’s Olympic time trial on Wednesday to win the second gold for Slovenia in Tokyo and the second medal for Slovenian cycling at the ongoing Games.
Bouncing back from difficulties in the Olympic road race, which saw his national team mate Tadej Pogačar win bronze, Roglič entered confidently into the 44.2 kilometre time trial, stepping up the pace throughout the course, to crush the field in the second of two laps for a winning time of 55 minutes 4.19 seconds.
This was as much as a 1min 1.39sec clear off Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands, his team mate in the UCI World Team Jumbo-Visma, in second. Australia’s Rohan Dennis came in third with a lag of 1min 3.90sec to claim bronze.
“Amazing … It goes to show how fortunes can turn fast if you believe in yourself and work hard for new challenges ahead. Absolutely amazing,” Roglič told RTV Slovenija in his first comment.
Roglič’s is the fourth medal for Slovenia at the Tokyo Games and the second gold after canoeist Benjamin Savšek secured the Olympic title in the men’s C-1 slalom on Monday.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a specialist for time trial or anything, but I can do a good time trial. I’m exceptionally proud and happy,” the 31-year old added.
At the first time check, Roglič was still in second, half a second behind Italian Filippo Ganna, the reigning world champion, and three seconds ahead of Dumoulin with the rest of the pack close behind.
However, 22.1 kilometres into his trial, he has build an 8sec lead ahead of Dumoulin, with Ganna falling as much behind.
Stepping up his rhythm further, he extended his lead ahead of the Dutch rider further to 31 seconds on the first, longest climb, pacing up through to the finish line.
In fact, Roglič was so much focused on his ride that he kept on peddling beyond the finish line at the Fuji International Speedway until he was waved to a halt a hundred metres on.
Commenting on that for the Slovenian public broadcaster after the medal ceremony, Roglič said there was just no one there to tell him it was over and with all benchmarks looking the same he thought: “What the heck, I’ll keep going.”
Roglič’s is the 27th medal for Slovenia at Summer Olympic Games since independence but the first gold in cycling in any discipline after Pogačar won the first ever Olympic medal for the country in cycling.
“We were aware we had a team that can make anything possible … Primož was phenomenal,” Andrej Hauptman, the head coach of Slovenia’s Olympic cycling team, commented.
“You could already see before the road trainings that Primož is back in shape. It wasn’t his day in the road race, but today he’s back at the top where he deserves to be,” Hauptman told the Slovenian public broadcaster in a reference to injuries from two bad falls that forced Roglič to withdraw from the Tour de France this year after he came in second last year, bested by Pogačar.
Roglič says he is yet to take in the feat he has achieved today, but he will not have much time to spare as he is due to appear in La Vuelta on 14 August to defend the title of the overall winner for a second time after he first won the tour of Spain in 2019.