The bees are confused with the tactics, but according to the agreement with the bosses, the leading three riders have a free hand in the finishes, just so that Jumbo Visma will win the Race of Spain. Primož Roglič won Anglira, but drew Jonas Vingegaard to the threshold of victory at the expense of Sepp Kuss.
The commentators and onlookers are confused, but the yellow and black cyclists win and hug, congratulate and laugh at the finish line. A day after Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglič also came to the second stage victory in this year’s cycle tour of Spain. Without another day’s success, can Sepp Kuss manage to hold on to the overall lead all the way to Madrid?
“Angliru was my desire and goal. I am overjoyed with the victory on this famous slope,” Primož Roglič admitted that he underlined the 17th stage of La Vuelta 23, as he wanted to leave his signature on the most difficult cycling climb in Spain, if not the entire professional cycling. For the ninth time, the Tour of Spain turned on Angliro (13.1 km; 9.4 percent), and he became the eighth winner of the prestigious summit of Asturias.
“In the end, the best will win”
Three years ago, he suffered greatly on the same cow track, and his position was saved by two mountain assistants: first, the young Jonas Vingegaard on his first Grand Tour and at the end Sepp Kuss, faithful assistant and friend. Today, he is only 8 seconds behind the American, whose real overall lead was preserved by Mikel Landa’s acceleration and the Dane’s decision not to challenge the Slovenian in the finish sprint.
“I spoke to Seppo. To be honest, it’s a strange feeling. On the one hand you want to move on, on the other hand you don’t want to… but in the end you move on yourself. Where I went I said: let’s go man man, I will do this and the road will show who is the strongest. I told him to keep fighting, to believe and he can still succeed.” the Angliru winner explained the unusual situation.
“Sepp was there for all of our victories. He is the first one I wish to win. But I also think of myself and my duty to race here for my best men. In the end, the best will win,” in a television interview, Roglič confirmed the team principle, which he further explained at the press conference of the winner of the day.
Sweet concerns for the team
“We all had the freedom to go our own way, as long as it’s in the team’s favor,” emphasized the 33-year-old Zasavec in front of the gathered media and continued: “We’ll see… Currently in the red jersey is Sepp Kuss, I wish him the best. But on the other hand, it’s my responsibility to race, to do my best. The road will tell who will win this year. The place where I attacked , was so steep that it was man to man and everyone going up in their own rhythm. When Sepp dropped out… a strange feeling, but in this race we all have a free hand to go our own way. The steep climbs of the Vuelta really show, who is the best.”
With an unusual fight within the same team for a prestigious victory in the Tour of Spain, many people wonder if this is destroying mutual relations and trust. “We’re still all together and hanging out and having fun, whether it’s on the bus, in the dining room or in the rooms. Sweet worries about who will be first, second and third at the end,” Roglič assures that harmony reigns at Jumbo Visma, as the cyclists are aiming for a historic achievement – to be the first team to win all three three-week races in the season.
“Our bosses decide (laughs). The thing is, we’ll see. Everyone has to do their best on the slopes and whoever is the strongest will win. I hope so, that’s the best case scenario, let’s not forget that it’s not just us in the race, ” after the 79th victory of his career, Roglič added that in order to complete the triathlon, they must first get rid of the remaining rivals.
Kuss: I want to finish at least third
Roglič did not gain anything against Vingegaard on the road itself, except four seconds more deduction for victory. Now the winner of this year’s Giro is exactly one minute behind the winner of this year’s Tour. The American has eight seconds more advantage, but the red shirt is slipping off his shoulder more and more… Even on Monday, on the rest day, he had a 1:37 advantage over the Slovenian and 1:44 over the Dane.
“If I don’t lose any extra time tomorrow… We’ll see, an extremely difficult stage awaits us. Whoever has the strongest legs will win in the end. We have three more difficult days ahead of us. Primož and Jonas, but also Mikel Landa are extremely strong. I want to finish at least third,” the still leader revealed at the press conference Sepp Kuss.
Smiling, in good spirits and in fluent Spanish, he assures the cycling world that he did not expect a birthday present in the form of a shared victory at La Vuelta on the 23rd.
Vingegaard hopes eight seconds will be enough for Kuss
“Our main goal today was to win the stage and to keep the top three places in the overall. Everything turned out the way we wanted, which we can be very happy with. I’m happy that Sepp kept the leader’s jersey. Frankly, I was hoping to keep the shirt, and I hope that Sepp will also win the Tour of Spain,” explained Vingegaard at the summit of Angliru, who emphasized once again in the additional talks that the difference of just eight seconds will not change until Madrid.
Whether this is realistic or not, the answer will be given already on Thursday, the 18th stage, the second in the mountains of Asturias. Almost 180 km with five categorized climbs and 4630 meters of altitude, ending the day on the La Cruz de Linares climb (8.3 km at 8.6%).
Could the team’s management tie up their hands now?
With a lead of four minutes over the fourth-placed Juan Ayus, who is facing a Spanish three-way with Miguel Landa and Enrico Mas, the question arises whether Jumbo Visma would not change tactics and conservatively and calmly lead the race to the end in favor of the mountain super assistant from the USA.
“We’ll see. Today was a decisive day. The differences are what they are. I don’t even know exactly what they are. The position is good for me, but we still have to talk to each other,” Kuss answered the sympathetic question tentatively, with a smile. The bee drama continues on Thursday in the last real mountain stage of the 78th Tour of Spain.