Tour contender Roglic wins Criterium du Dauphine

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VAUJANY, France — Primoz Roglic warmed up for his Tour de France bid next month by winning the Criterium du Dauphine stage race for the first time.

His Jumbo-Visma teammate Jonas Vingegaard won the eighth and final stage in the mountains. The pair crossed the line holding hands at the summit of the Plateau de Solaison, with Roglic allowing Vingegaard to nose his wheel in front to take the stage win.

Vingegaard placed 40 seconds behind Roglic in the overall standings, with Australian Ben O’Connor from the AG2R Citroen team finishing 1 minute, 41 seconds behind Roglic in third spot.

Jumbo-Visma worked brilliantly on the final climb, with Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk accelerating to split up the leading group.

This allowed his two teammates to pull clear on the final ascent of the 135-kilometer (84-mile) trek from Saint-Chaffrey to Vaujany, which included two mammoth climbs of 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) and 29 kilometers (18 miles) and a last climb of 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles).

Roglic and Vingegaard were both credited with a time of 3 hours, 49 minutes, 20 seconds, with O’Connor trailing them by 15 seconds to finish the stage in third.

“The guys had everything under control from the start, it was a fast start. They were controlling all day,” the 32-year-old Roglic said. “Jonas was good on the last climb. We can be confident, some more work to do and we should be ready for the Tour.”

Roglic has won the past three Spanish Vuelta titles but he dramatically missed out on a Tour de France victory to fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar in 2020.

This year, Roglic also won the Paris-Nice stage race for the first time with a brilliant attack on the final stage.

“So finally I won some races in France, so it’s nice,” Roglic said.

Vingegaard was delighted with the manner of his stage win and the teamwork involved.

“We tried to drop everyone (on the climbs) and I think we can be very happy and proud,” Vingegaard said. “This is one of the greatest races in the world, to win a stage and finish in second place (overall) is great.”

The Dane will team up with Roglic again on the July 1-24 Tour. But the 25-year-old Vingegaard expects they will face a greater challenge.

“I think it will be hard for us to be 1-2 in the Tour, because there are so many GC (overall) contenders,” he said. “The competition will be harder.”

Thomas sees Giro d’Italia lead cut slightly by Roglič; Buitrago wins Stage 19

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TRE CIME DI LAVAREDO, Italy — Geraint Thomas maintained his bid to become the oldest Giro d’Italia champion although his lead was cut slightly by Primož Roglič during the toughest stage of the race.

Roglič crossed the summit finish of the so-called “Queen Stage” three seconds ahead of Thomas at the end of the race’s final mountain road leg.

There were no flat sections and five tough, classified climbs on the 114-mile route from Longarone to the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, which had gradients of up to 18%.

Stage 19 was won by Santiago Buitrago, who finished 51 seconds ahead of Derek Gee and 1 minute, 46 seconds ahead of Magnus Cort and Roglič, who just missed out on bonus seconds.

“I’m really happy with this victory. It was the most difficult moment of a difficult Giro for me personally,” said Buitrago, who rides for Bahrain Victorious. “I wanted to try and raise my arms before the end and coming here at Tre Cime di Lavaredo is amazing.

“This is the recompense for all the work that I’ve done. … There’s a lot of motivation for me and the whole team having seen the fruits of our labors.”

The 37-year-old Thomas, who rides for Ineos Grenadiers, is 26 seconds ahead of Roglič going into what will be a decisive penultimate stage

Third-placed João Almeida lost more time and was 59 seconds behind Thomas.

Roglič changed his bicycle shortly before the start of the penultimate climb and he made his move inside the final kilometer. However, Thomas was able to stick to his wheel and the British cyclist made his own attack in the final 500 meters and looked to have slightly distanced his rival.

But Roglič came back and gained what could be a vital few seconds.

The winner will likely be decided in the mountain time trial that ends in a demanding climb up Monte Lussari, with an elevation of over 3,000 feet and gradients of up to 22%.

“Tomorrow we go full again,” Roglič said. “It’s good. We got a bit of legs back, so tomorrow we go full, eh?

“If I wouldn’t be confident then I don’t start. The best one at the end wins.”

The race ends in a mostly ceremonial finish in Rome, where Thomas could beat the age record held by Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

Thomas celebrates 37th birthday by retaining Giro d’Italia lead; Roglic into 2nd

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VAL DI ZOLDO, Italy — Geraint Thomas celebrated his 37th birthday with another strong ride in the mountains to retain the pink jersey during Stage 18 of the Giro d’Italia.

Thomas crossed immediately behind Primoz Roglic, who moved up from third place to second.

“The legs have been good,” Thomas said. “Need to enjoy these moments.”

Joao Almeida dropped from second to third overall after losing 21 seconds over the 100-mile route from Oderzo to Val di Zoldo, which included two first-category climbs followed by two second-category climbs in the finale – including an uphill finish.

Thomas – the 2018 Tour de France champion – leads Roglic by 29 seconds and Almeida by 39 seconds.

“It’s a pleasant day. I take time on Almeida and didn’t get dropped by Primoz,” Thomas said. “I felt pretty good, always under control but Primoz obviously went hard. It wasn’t easy. … I just want to be consistent until the end.”

Italian champion Filippo Zanna won the stage ahead of fellow breakaway rider Thibaut Pinot in a two-man sprint.

With only two more climbing stages remaining before the mostly ceremonial finish in Rome, Thomas is poised to become the oldest Giro winner in history – beating the record of Fiorenzo Magni, who was 34 when he won in 1955.

Chris Horner holds the record for oldest Grand Tour champion, set when he won the Spanish Vuelta in 2013 at 41.

However, Thomas will still be tested over the next two days.

Stage 19 is considered perhaps the race’s toughest, a 114-mile leg from Longarone to Tre Cime Di Lavaredo featuring five major climbs. Then there’s a mountain time trial.