Vuelta a Espana: Olympic gold medallist Roglic starts title defence in style

By Sports Desk August 14, 2021

Primoz Roglic started the defence of his Vuelta a Espana title in style as he took the lead after a short time trial on stage one.

Fresh from claiming Slovenia's first Olympic gold medal in any cycling discipline, Roglic – who has triumphed at the Vuelta in the previous two years – was the last man out in Burgos.

The 31-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider set a blistering pace around the 7.1kilometre route, which he completed in just eight minutes and 32 seconds – six seconds clear of nearest challenger Alex Aranburu (Astana-PremierTech).

Aranburu had held top spot for much of the stage, but has to settle for second heading into stage two. Jan Tratnik, of Bahrain-Victorious, rounds out the top three, trailing Roglic by eight seconds.

Roglic was forced to abandon the Tour de France after a brutal first week but headed to Spain on a high following his success in Japan, and is aiming to become the first rider to win the Vuelta three times in a row since Roberto Heras in 2005. He is also bidding to draw level with Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador on three triumphs should he keep hold of the red jersey.

"It's a beautiful start, I'm enjoying it, and we hopefully can enjoy it as a team in the upcoming days," said Roglic.

Giro d'Italia champion Egan Bernal skipped the Tour and is considered Roglic's prime challenger, but the Colombian suffered on Saturday and lost 27 seconds to his rival.

Tom Piddock, who won a mountain biking gold for Great Britain in Tokyo, made his grand tour debut for INEOS Grenadiers, clocking in 36 seconds slower than Roglic.

"That was horrible. I've basically had three weeks of holidays," said Piddock.

STAGE RESULT

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:08:32
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:06
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) +0:08
4. Tom Scully (EF Education-Nippo) +0:10
5. Josef Cerny (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +0:10

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 0:08:32
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) +0:06
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) +0:08

Points Classification

1. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 20
2. Alex Aranburu Deba (Astana-Premier Tech) 17
3. Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) 15

King of the Mountains

1. Sepp Cuss (Jumbo-Visma) 3
2. Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation) 2
3. Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) 1

What's next?

The Vuelta rolls from Caleruega to Burgos, a 166.7km flat route with a sprint finish, giving the sprinters an early opportunity to shine.

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