SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain —was barely off his bike before someone shoved a beer in his hand, a welcome way to savor his third consecutive Spanish Vuelta title. The Slovenian and his Jumbo-Visma teammates then donned shirts to mark the moment. “Trilogy,” it read, for the trilogy of . this year’s race, as few have. He won four stages, proved unbeatable in and the mountains, and built a final gap over runner-up Enric Mas that hadn’t been seen this century.
His winning margin of 4 minutes, 42 seconds over Mas, was the largest at the three-week race since 1997. “It’s unbelievable, it’s crazy,” Roglic said. “Sometimes, you win by a lot; sometimes, very little. But as long as you can win, it’s good.” , a time trial of 34 kilometers (21 miles) from Padron to Santiago de Compostela, with an already comfortable advantage of 2:38 over Mas. But instead of just riding to avoid a title-threatening crash, Roglic did what he had done all race: he went for the .
Roglic powered through the course and finished in the massive square outside Santiago’s medieval cathedral, the destination of thousands of pilgrims who walk the St. James’ Way each year. And despite almost taking a wrong turn midway through, he capped his victory in the final meters by catching and overtaking Mas, who had started two minutes before him on their solo runs. Magnus Cort Nielsen was chasing his fourththe time to beat over the decisive time trial. But at 44:02, some 14 seconds ahead of the Dane.
“It was a super nice day and nice three weeks, so I’m happy for myself and my guys around,” Roglic said. “It was hard, the Tokyo Olympics.. Still, I enjoyed support on the road. I tried to focus on the stage win.” The 31-year-old Roglic completed an excellent rebound from his disappointing . He was supposed to be Tadej Pogacar’s most significant rwithdrewthdrawing from the race after suffering two crashes in the . Less than three weeks later, Roglic proved that his Tour performance was not a sign of decline when he won gold for Slovenia in the time trial at the
Then the former ski jumper Odd Christian Eiking to become the surprising race leader.. more than twice. Alberto Contador (2008, 2012, 2014) and Tony Rominger (1992-1994) also won it thrice. Roberto Heras won it four times (2000, 2003-2005). Roglic set the tone by winning the in Burgos. Confident in his prowess on the most challenging climbs, he kept his cool when he lost the red jersey twice to riders who were not considered title rivals. Roglic’s only slip was his fall on Stage 10, which cost him time and allowed Norwegian
Mas may have finished the race runner-up, but the biggest threat to Roglic’s title defense was launched by Egan Bernal on that climb in the northern Picos de Europa mountains. Bernal, a Tour, and winner attacked from a distance, with 61 kilometers (40 miles) and two significant climbs. Roglic, instead of sitting back and trusting his team to lead him around, jumped on Bernal’s wheel. But Roglic bided his time, leaving Eiking to stay in the red jersey for a week until he took it back in style atop the iconic Lagos de Covadonga summit on Stage 17.
The pair rode alone on the rainy mountain roads until Roglic freed Bernalday celebrated a double victory: he had claimed one of the Vuelta’s most venerable stages in majestic fashion. He dealt a blow that would ensure him another title. . Originally appeared on NBCSports.com.win his third stage. After the stage, Bernal praised Roglic’s “bravery” for risking it all to match his attack. Roglic’s shout as he crossed the finish line that