For a long time, the »Vuelta a España 2019« offered plenty of absurdities, but no clear picture in the overall standings. That should change fundamentally only with the tenth section of the day on 3 September. Everyone expected an exclamation point from top favorite Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) at the more than 36-kilometer time trial from Jurançon to the French Pau. The Slovene could put it. He won the fight against the clock sovereign, turning a slight gap in the overall individual rating into a comfortable lead.
With a solid 1:52 minutes behind the current world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) followed, 2:11 minutes after Roglic the highly traded Colombian Miguel Ángel López (Astana) in third place. The following two stages through mountainous terrain in northwestern Spain were characterized by permanent attacks. Consequently, there were nice victories out of breakaways.
The 13th stage last Friday provided the appropriate profile for a major attack on the carrier of the “Maillot Rojo”. For the start in Bilbao, the Basque hosts had devised a special gesture. In the “San Mamés”, the football stadium of the legendary Athletic Club Bilbao, the peloton drove a lap of honor during the neutralized start phase. Three Basque Vuelta drivers were honored to shine in historic jerseys of the football club, which had a cycling section almost a hundred years ago. So the most popular sports in the region came together in red and white – unfortunately in front of empty seats, spectators were not admitted for some reason.
Primoz Roglic dominated the following queen stage with its seven climbs. At the end of the 166.4 kilometers, it was up to 25 percent steep ramp up to the finish in Los Machucos. The Slovene first fended off all attacks, in order to finally successfully attack. Only his compatriot, the 20-year-old Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), was able to follow. The two discussed briefly at the final climb, then worked together to the finish. And Roglic obeyed the unwritten law of not being too greedy as the overall leader: he left Pogacar the stage victory. Pogacar also took over the white jersey of the best young professional by Miguel Ángel López.
The magical career of the overall leader Roglic is that he began as a ski jumper. “I've always been good in endurance sports, but I've been mostly running,” he once said. He whistled for the enormous capacities that had been measured during a measurement, until 2007, when a gust of wind nagged him terribly on the slope of the Planica ski jump. Even though serious injuries did not happen then, Roglic lost the lead. “I wanted to become the best ski jumper in the world, the dream did not come true.” Now he's about to become the best road cyclist.
On Monday he extended his lead on the way up to the Alto de la Cubilla in Asturias. The day saw memories of “Spanish October” awakening. The 1934 Asturian Miners' Strike created a stable alliance of proletarian unions, anarcho-syndicalists and communists. An Asturian commune, the nucleus of the later Popular Front in the fight against Franco. Roglic is expected to end the tour in sympathy and finish on top of the podium in Madrid on Sunday.