Primož Roglič did not wear the pink shirt, but he proved on the royal stage that he could turn the Giro in his favor on Saturday. On the climb to the finish, he was the first to attack Thomas, who returned it to him, and the Slovenian again had the last word, pinching off three seconds from the leader.
The stage was won by the 23-year-old Colombian Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain Victorious), who, besides Derek Gee (2nd place) and Magnus Cort (3rd), was the only one who persisted in the run until the end. The favorites who went over the first four climbs under the guidance of Ineos battled for fourth place, but there were no attacks. The stage flared up only in the last kilometer of the steep climb to Tre Cime di Laveredo, then it really went full blast and we saw an extraordinary fight of titans, a man-to-man fight.
Too bad it didn’t work out in the split secondsRoglič – he changed his bike in Cortina before the decisive climb – was probably hoping to get close to Geraint Thomas in the overall result (or even wear the pink shirt), but the 37-year-old Thomas was again very tough, at the first attack of Roglič at first he was a little behind, but he quickly launched a counterattack, and in the sprint to the finish Roglič did his best to break away from the Briton again and was three seconds ahead of him at the finish line. A small psychological victory! It’s a shame that the Zasava eagle didn’t manage to take 3rd place (Cort was a meter or two faster), because he would have gained four seconds.
St. Višarje will give the answer about the winnerAlso this time, Sepp Kuss was the longest serving assistant at Roglič. Therefore, the British Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) remains in the pink shirt, the second-placed Primož Roglič (Jumbo Visma) is 26 seconds behind, Almeida (UAE) 59. Now it is clear what has been foreshadowed throughout the race: in Sveti Višarje on Saturday, mountain chronometer, “as the world has never seen it before”, decided who will be the winner of the 106th Race across Italy: Thomas, Roglič or maybe even Almeida, who was 23 seconds behind Roglič today.
High above 2000 metersThe royal stage in the mostly sun-kissed Dolomites offered five steep slopes on which the caravan had to overcome as many as 5,400 meters in altitude. First, these were the Campolongo, Valparola and Giau passes, after the descent to Cortina was followed by Tre Croci and Tre Cime di Laveredo, where the gradient was up to 18% and where the highest point of this year’s race was at the top (2304 meters above sea level). At the beginning of the final climb, Roglič still had all his main assistants with him, but due to Ineos’ sharp rhythm, Michel Hessmann and Koen Bouwman dropped out one after the other, so that Rogla (just like Thomas) was left with two assistants.
There will be a lot of fans in VišarjeOn Saturday, the race will culminate in the immediate vicinity of the Italian-Slovenian border. It will be the mountain time trial from Trbiž to Sveti Višarij (18.6 km). The organizers expect a huge number of (mainly Slovenian) fans, around 15 thousand. The gondola will bring only 3,000 lucky people who won tickets a few days ago to the top in two intervals (between 8:30 and 9:30 and between 11:30 and 12:30). Other fans will have to reach the top on foot along the marked paths. Ticket holders will be able to go to the valley by gondola only one hour after the end of the stage.
Unraveling of the decisive stage at 18:30The organizers emphasize that the roads in Trbiž will be closed early due to the quick start of the test. Competitors will start in several groups or waves. The first will start from the center of Trbiž at around 11:30, while the best, including Primož Roglič, will start at 17:50. All riders will be at the finish line around 6:30 p.m. A special parking lot will also be organized for ticket holders, but there will be enough for other fans in the vicinity of Trbiž. Parking lots (a total of 12,000 parking spaces will be available) will be free. Slovenians are recommended to take the bus that will run from Rateč, Planica and Kranjska Gora.