Primož Roglič raised the Tirreno-Adriatico winner’s trident trophy and pulled on the final blue jersey on Sunday, genuinely surprised to have the form to win on his season debut. He was happy to be back near his best as he prepares to face Remco Evenepoel at the Volta a Catalunya and then again in May at the Giro d’Italia.
“It’s great to be back in the way we have this week. I’ve enjoyed it and we can celebrate this victory. We worked hard for this and so we need to enjoy it,” he said, praising his Jumbo-Visma teammates for their support during the testing seven days of racing in central Italy.
“I may be on the podium by myself, but actually we should be there with the whole team. The guys worked really hard all week to help me get the win and deserve it as much as I do. I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve had here with them.”
Roglič had not raced since he underwent bone graft surgery last October to stabilise his left shoulder following the crash that forced him out of last year’s Vuelta a España. He only started training on the road in December but has worked hard at a recent altitude camp and looked lean and fit at Tirreno-Adriatico.
He was a later entry to the Italian race, his Jumbo-Visma team using a UCI rule to add his name to the entry list just before the final 72-hour pre-race deadline.
Roglič raced with unshaven legs for half of the race, until he won stage 4 and began a hat trick of victories that set up his overall success.
“The opening time trial was very hard for me, I went ‘a bloc’ and suffered. But then every day I got more and more into the rhythm of racing,” Roglič explained.
“It was hard to come back from my surgery. Fortunately, I had great support from my family and the people around me. We always believed things would work out and we worked together. We can be proud and happy now.”
Roglič won Tirreno-Adriatico but acknowledged that he is not yet at his best or ready for the Giro d’Italia. He will ride Volta a Catalunya between March 20-26 and then return to altitude for another block of important Giro d’Italia training.
“There is plenty to work on,” he said.
“Every year you get a year older and wiser. I got the confirmation that I’m on the right track, but that doesn’t mean I’m already where I want to be. You have to keep improving and that motivates me to keep going.”
Roglič is no training nerd but knows hard work pays off.
“You can never climb fast enough…” he said. “That’s always the challenge, to push a watt or two more. But I also want to have fun because when you race it doesn’t really matter how much you push, you’ve got to be happy and enjoy it.
“When you don’t win, you weren’t fast enough, right? When the other guys are faster, then the numbers, whatever they show, aren’t enough.”
“But it’s just the start of the season. I’m just having fun again and we’ll see what happens at the Giro in May.”