If Tourfavorite Roglic has something in his head, he’ll just do it

A portrait of a man who is called both cold and warm by his loved ones, both distant and kind. And who is praised by everyone for his (dry) humour.

Of all the riders in the Tour de France peloton, he started cycling last. Roglic was only 21 years old when he first stepped on a racing bike in 2011. After that it went fast. In 2013 he rode his first race and barely two years later Jumbo-Visma was tipped off: there was to be a ‘special case’ in Slovenia.

The story is well known: he was put on a plane to Amsterdam and during effort tests it turned out that he could directly compete with the best of the team. That same evening he got a contract.

Big round

In 2019, six years after he had ridden his first race and eight years after stepping on a racing bike for the first time, he won the Vuelta. His first reaction against team boss Richard Plugge after his victory: “It took a long time before I could win a big lap. Finally.”

Dry humor, he’s known for it. “He brings jokes with a steel face,” CCeit reporter Han Kock now knows.

“I spoke to him just before the Giro last year. I asked him if he wasn’t in shape too soon, because he had won everything there was to win that spring. Then he said dry and mumbling that he would only last two weeks at the Giro. I understood in the assembly that he was joking.”

Pampers

“And that’s how I know him”, Tolhoek continues. “Whether it rains, snows, thunderstorms or not, it all leaves him freezing. He stays calm and still does what he has in mind.”

Other characteristics of the Slovenian? He’s generous and social. After every big win he thanks his team generously. He already gave away a watch, the usual present in the peloton, but in 2019 he came on with an electric mountain bike.

All colleagues who had helped him in the Giro and the Vuelta that year got one. With the text: “Thank you, you need some relief after a tough season.”

Roglic was born over thirty years ago in Trbovlje, a small town in Slovenia surrounded by mountains. It has the largest chimney in Europe, 360 metres high. In the twenties and thirties of the last century Dutch companies came to recruit miners there. Roglic’s father worked in one of the mines.

146.5 metres

In those mountainous surroundings Roglic junior learned ski jumping. He became so good at it that he became junior world champion in 2007. His record jump is 146.5 meters. However, a heavy fall put an end to that career. He suffered ‘only’ a broken nose and a concussion, but he also slowly lost his motivation for the sport.

And because he noticed that he could no longer become the best ski jumper in the world, he decided to try something else. Then he decided to become the best cyclist in the world. He sold his bike and was able to buy his first racing bike in 2011

He has kept his love for the mountains and nature. At Jumbo-Visma they sometimes look up to him, how he climbs again on a training course to enjoy the view.

On mornings before a race he also wants to go into nature. “He goes jogging,” surprises team leader Frans Maassen. “He did that for example in the difficult Tour of the Basque Country. Well, most cyclists won’t do that so fast.”

Maassen was also watching the same Roglic in 2016, barely five months in the service of the Dutch team, win the Giro-prologue in Apeldoorn.

“We didn’t know at all that he could time trial. Neither did he. And he’s only beaten one hundredth by the great Tom Dumoulin.”

His wife Lora Klinc, with whom Roglic has a son of one year old, typifies him in the documentary ‘Van schans naar Tour de France’ as follows: “He has two sides. There is Primoz the cyclist and there is the normal Primoz. He can be chilly and distant, but also nice and warm.”

He’s not always modest. He also considers himself to be the best cyclist in the world and likes to show that. After all, he’s first on the UCI rankings. And he is convinced that he can win the Tour. But then Roglic will have to deal with an annoying characteristic: he often falls.

In all five big rounds he participated in, he went down at least once. Whether it was in a descent, against a crash barrier or in the middle of the road against a refuge; Roglic fell. On the other hand, he did complete all those big laps. And he also won at least one stage each time.

Tour de France

What is clear is: if the Slovenian is planning something, it usually succeeds. For example, in 2017 when he renewed his contract with Jumbo-Visma he explained his plans for the coming years: in 2018 he wanted to go for stage victories in the Tour (he succeeded), in 2019 he wanted to go for the final classification in the Giro (he finished third).

And, according to sports director Merijn Zeeman at the time, he added, “I want to win the Tour in 2020.”