“Were optimistic about Vingegaard, but he was not at his very best”

Tadej Pogacar (left) is congratulated by Jonas Vingegaard

NOS Cycling

“In recent years it has actually become a regular shot that he is so incredibly good.” Merijn Zeeman, the sporting director of Jumbo-Visma, could not say that he was very surprised by the supremacy that Tadej Pogacar displayed in Paris-Nice last week. “But of course it was very impressive.”

The Slovenian from UAE won three of the seven stages and also won the final classification on his debut in the French stage race. Frenchman David Gaudu finished second at 53 seconds, while Jonas Vingegaard lost 1.39 to two-time Tour winner Pogacar, who also showed his class two weeks ago in the Tour of Andalusia.

‘Valid excuse’

Jumbo-Visma trump Vingegaard was Pogacar in charge in the Tour de France last season, but was unable to make a fist in Paris-Nice. Despite a very good winter, as Zeeman calls it. “Jonas has never won a week-long WorldTour race. That was a goal after winning the Tour. We were optimistic all winter that we could offer more matches.”

Pogacar celebrates his victory in Paris-Nice

“But after the altitude training in Tenerife, he had some private matters, which threw him backwards and he was not at his very best last week. That was a valid excuse,” says Zeeman in the radio program Along the line. “Although I must say that even in top form it would have been a great job to compete with Pogacar, because they were really in a class of their own this week.”

On the other hand, Primoz Roglic performed above expectations in Tirreno-Adriatico with also three stage victories, building up enough margin to win the Italian round. A big stroke of luck. “He was out for a long time with his shoulder injury, so he couldn’t sit on the bike for a long time.”

Special athlete

“That was also the reason why we hadn’t lined him up in Tirreno yet and he wasn’t supposed to start until next week in the Tour of Catalunya. But the recovery was much faster and at the altitude training we saw that he was progressing very quickly. Because he had also had enough weeks of training, we then decided that it was better for him to invest in competitions now.”

Primoz Roglic in de leiderstrui in the Tirreno-Adriatico

And that went extremely well for Pogacar’s compatriot. “He is just a very special athlete who, besides being very strong, also knows very well what he can and cannot do. Winning three stages and the final classification was a huge surprise to us. But a very pleasant one.”

Important goal

Roglic has the Giro on his program for this season, but no Tour. Considering his performance in Italy, a review might be in order. “The Giro is also a very special race for us. We have now won both the Tour and the Vuelta (Roglic in 2019, 2020 and 2021, ed.), but never the Giro. So that is a very important goal.”

“Also for Primoz, by the way, because the last time trial ends very close to Slovenia. They expect the whole country to finish. And later on comes the Tour that Jonas will focus on later. And a few more, such as Wout van Aert. But normally Roglic does not ride a Tour.”


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