UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — Primoz Roglic got off to a good start in his quest to win an unprecedented fourth straight Spanish Vuelta title when his Jumbo-Visma team won the opening team time trial in the Netherlands on Friday.
Jumbo-Visma, competing on home soil as the Netherlands finally got to open the Vuelta after not being able to do it in previous years because of the coronavirus pandemic, finished 13 seconds ahead of team Ineos Grenadiers and 14 seconds in front of Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl.
Roglic’s teammate Robert Gesink, who is Dutch, will get to wear the leader’s red jersey in his ninth appearance in the Grand Tour race.
“He’s the one that deserves it the most, it’s a pleasure racing for so many years with him,” Roglic said. “I started with him in the team, he taught me a lot and it’s nice to win as the home team with a home rider.”
It had been doubtful whether Roglic would be able to defend his Vuelta title after he was injured at the Tour de France, which affected his preparations.
“My condition is good enough to win today,” Roglic said. “I’m super happy about it. It was a pleasure today, the guys did a really great job. Twenty days more to come.”
The Spanish Vuelta remains the only Grand Tour event won by Roglic, who has finished second at the Tour de France and third at the Giro d’Italia. He will be trying to join Spaniard Roberto Heras (2000, 2003-05) as the only rider to win four Vuelta titles. Tony Rominger and Alberto Contador are the only other riders with three Vuelta titles.
The second and third stages will also take place in the Netherlands. The three-week race will feature eight flat stages — two of them with high-altitude finishes — as well as four hilly stages, seven mountain stages and two time trials. Riders will get three rest days.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports