Primoz Roglic efficiently ticked off one other stage on this 12 months’s Tour de France and turned his consideration to the ultimate 48 hours of the race through which, with the stage to Paris on Sunday a formality, he’ll defend his total lead within the mountain time trial on Saturday, from Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles.
Escorted as ever by the relentless Jumbo-Visma crew, Roglic, within the yellow jersey since stage 9, was a discrete and untroubled presence on stage 19 to Champagnole, which was received with a solo breakaway by Denmark’s Søren Kragh Andersen, already a stage winner in Lyon, of the Sunweb crew.
“Two wins in the identical Tour de France,” Kragh Andersen stated. “I’m speechless. I may by no means have dreamed about one thing higher.”
The primary drama had centred on the battle for supremacy within the inexperienced factors jersey classification, between Sam Bennett of Deceuninck Fast-Step, and the seven-time winner, Peter Sagan, driving for Bora-Hansgrohe, however when the Dane attacked alone, 15km from the end, the choose group with him had no response and the anticipated dash duel didn’t materialise.
Saturday’s time trial covers 30km of rolling highway earlier than the robust 6km climb to the end, however with Roglic main his compatriot Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) by virtually a minute there appears little likelihood of any radical change.
The 2 Slovenians locked horns in a mountain time trial as just lately as June, with Pogacar beating Roglic by 9 seconds within the Slovenian nationwide time trial championships. However the Tour’s chief, already a winner of time trial phases within the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, is unlikely to be dislodged from his place of energy.
“I’ve already accomplished a while trials in my profession, and I’ve had every kind of expertise, some good, some not so good,” Roglic stated. “So, for tomorrow, I’m feeling OK, I’m feeling wholesome. I’m excited and simply trying ahead. Tomorrow it’s all on me. The crew has accomplished a tremendous job.”
However as Roglic edged nearer to closing victory in Paris, differing accounts emerged of the weird incident after Wednesday’s stage to the Col de la Loze, following which his sports activities director, Merijn Zeeman, was expelled from the Tour.
Below the Worldwide Cycling Union’s (UCI) guidelines governing technological fraud – or motor doping – bikes are frequently checked or endure an X-ray by UCI employees. UCI mechanics can additional study the bike by taking it aside. After Wednesday’s end, Roglic’s bike was taken for what was described as a “routine” verify throughout which the crank set was eliminated.
Zeeman was stated by the UCI to have develop into “in a short time emotional” and “indignant” from the beginning of the bike verify, as Roglic’s bike was dismantled in entrance of him. He’s then stated to have began swearing and changing into intimidatory in direction of the UCI mechanic. Crank units will not be routinely dismantled however can, at random, be subjected to examination.
Zeeman and the Jumbo-Visma crew later claimed Roglic’s bike was “broken” throughout the verify. “The bike was broken and the crank set had to get replaced,” an announcement stated. In response to a UCI spokesperson, nonetheless, this was not the case.
“The bike wasn’t broken, the crank set was eliminated – that’s all,” the Guardian was instructed. The UCI additionally confirmed the entire incident was captured on video for its information and that Roglic’s bike had in actual fact handed the verify with none issues.
The verify and X-ray have develop into as routine as doping controls and the bikes of the yellow jersey and every day’s stage winner are routinely put by way of this course of. Zeeman, already conversant in the protocol, had been provided the chance to make use of his crew’s personal mechanic however the UCI stated he was completely happy to make use of its personal.
Roglic, who earlier described Zeeman’s absence as “unhealthy information,” took solely three questions throughout his truncated post-race press convention. “We aren’t pleased with it, it’s not a very good scenario for us,” he stated of Zeeman’s expulsion from the Tour. “I heard yesterday night and for me it was an enormous shock. I used to be not current when it [the bike check] occurred so it’s actually onerous to touch upon any of this.”
Whereas rumours of motor doping have lengthy been circulating, there has but to be a high-profile case in males’s racing, with probably the most infamous incident involving the Belgian rider Femke Van den Driessche, who was discovered to have a motor in her bike on the 2016 Cyclocross World Championships.
Talking in 2017, the present UCI president, David Lappartient, stated: “I fear that motors have been used. I’ve no proof however it’s not unimaginable. I need to make certain that we ship a sport with out doping and with out motors. That’s the job of the UCI, to ensure credibility.”