The headlines at the Vuelta had long been determined by others. For example the Dane Mads Pedersen, who celebrated his third stage win in the Tour of Spain on Friday. The former world champion from the Trek-Segafredo team thus extended his lead in the sprint classification.
Or the Belgian Remco Evenepoe, who has meanwhile emerged as a Vuelta favourite, who after the good 138 kilometers around Talavera de la Reina reached the finish line with the first group and came one step closer to overall victory. The 22-year-old defended the overall leader’s red jersey and is 2:07 ahead of Spaniard Enric Mas and 5:14 ahead of his compatriot Juan Ayuso Pesquera. The Vuelta ends on Sunday in Madrid and this Saturday leads over the mountainous 20th and 181-kilometer stage from Moralzarzal to Puerto de Navacerrada.
Actually, at this point in the tour, it would have been expected that the name Primoz Roglic would also have been found in this classification of the top people. But the Slovenian cycling star had to give up the Vuelta prematurely after a fall after the Tour de France. The defending champion did not start the 17th stage on Wednesday after falling just before the finish the day before. Roglic was second in the overall standings and had caught up more and more time on leader Evenepoel in the past few days.
But the bruises and the associated pain had become too great. Roglic crossed the finish line on Tuesday with his right arm and leg covered in blood. The 32-year-old had won the Vuelta in the past three years and would have drawn level with record winner Roberto Heras with a fourth win.
Roglic himself credits a rival that things couldn’t turn out that way: Fred Wright. And thus determines the headlines again. Because there are serious allegations that he raises against the 23-year-old Briton from Team Bahrain Victorious. “He came from behind and ripped the handlebars out of my hands before I could react,” says Roglic.
The cause of his fall is clearly due to that, everything else is not true: “Not everyone saw it correctly. The accident was not caused by a bad road or unsafe conditions, but by a driver’s behavior. I have no eyes in the back. Otherwise I would have avoided it.” He made it clear that he didn’t want to just accept it. “This is not the way I want the sport to continue,” he said in a statement posted to his team’s website.
Wright now responded, saying the allegations were “not fair, to be honest”. Footage showed “that it was a simple racing accident,” he outlined. His team also had his back. We believe that if a team is concerned about an incident on the route, they should raise it with the post-stage commissioners, rather than posting it in an online statement a few days later.” Something like that only fuels “hatred and hostilities”.