Jumbo-Visma have ridden the final week of the Vuelta a Espana with another tone, riding for stage wins after Primoz Roglic failed to conclude another Grand Tour, as crashes kept derailing his campaigns.
There were few reasons to celebrate in Madrid for the Dutch team, who endured such a successful Tour de France, but in Spain found complications that were not expected. "The feeling of what it could have been if Primoz hadn't crashed prevails," team DS Grischa Niermann said in conclusion with the race. "It's hard to say what Primoz could have done. As a team, we showed that we wanted to ride a successful last week. Primoz showed that on the day of the crash and the days before. We still had chances to take the red jersey, but we will never know if it would have worked out. That doesn't take away from Remco Evenepoel's performance. He showed he was very strong, and he definitely deserves our congratulations. Still, I would have liked to see how this team would have handled our plans with a strong Primoz," he said.
Lacking the depth it did at the Tour de France, the team was further put down at the end of the opening week as Sepp Kuss and Edoardo Affini abandoned the race following a Covid-19 outbreak. The Dutch team had few weapons to attack, however Roglic had the legs to take time on Remco Evenepoel at Sierra de la Pandera and Sierra Nevada, and entered the final as the Belgian's nearest rival.
On the first day of the third week however, as Roglic attacked the race and was taking time on Evenepoel and his rivals, he crashed in the final sprint, sustaining several injuries which have seen him abandon the race the following morning. This came as a devastating blow, specially into the third week, after the team had put in so much work on the specific GC goal.
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"We came here with one goal: to win the red jersey for the fourth time in a row with Primoz. The last few days have been strange, but the guys have been strong in the face of disappointment," he added. Robert Gesink, who had worn the leader's jersey earlier in the race, put on a very strong performance on stage 18 and was very close to a win that would've turned the team's morale around, but he was caught in sight of the line in a day where Evenepoel took his second stage win.
"It is important not to forget how we started this Vuelta. We must keep thinking about the team time trial win, Primoz's stage win, and the fact that we could wear the red jersey for four days. Hopefully, we can go home with the feeling that we did have successes despite losing sight of the big goal," Niermann concluded.
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