SAN BENEDETTO DEL TRONTO, Italy — Slovenian racing cyclist Primoz Roglic made a winning return to cycling as he triumphed at the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico race for a fourth victory in five editions of “The Race of the Two Seas.”
It was Roglic´s first race of the season after the Jumbo-Visma rider underwent shoulder surgery last year.
“It´s just nice to come back to racing this way. I really enjoyed the whole week,” Roglic said according to AP. “My teammates were super strong.
“One week ago I was just expecting to suffer. It´s even better to win when it´s unexpected. It feels good ahead of the Giro d´Italia too.”
After winning the previous three stages to build up a significant advantage, Roglic protected his lead and finished safely in the peloton on the seventh leg to end the week-long race 18 seconds ahead of Joao Almeida of Portugal and 23 seconds ahead of British cyclist Tao Geoghegan Hart.
Roglic won the Tirreno in 2019. Fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar won the two previous editions but the two-time defending champion was competing at the Paris-Nice race which he won.
Belgian cyclist Jasper Philipsen won a bunch sprint to take Sunday´s stage. The Alpecin-Deceuninck rider edged out Dylan Groenewegen and Alberto Dainese.
It was Philipsen´s second sprint victory at this year´s Tirreno, setting him up as one of the favorites for next weekend´s Milan-San Remo race.
“I was dying in the end, my legs felt really painful, but I´m happy that I could keep it to the finish,” Philipsen said.
“The sprint stage is always different from a classic like San Remo but of course we have some confidence. We have a strong team I think. So now it´s good to take some time off, recover a little bit and try to be on top level.”
There was an early breakaway in the 154-kilometer (96-mile) route that started and finished in San Benedetto del Tronto but the eight riders were caught with just over 3 kilometres (2 miles) remaining.
It was touch and go for the sprinters as a persistent eight-man breakaway held off the peloton until three kilometres to go. A series of turns and tightening roads squeezed out Intermarche-Circus-Wanty and Soudal-Quickstep’s Fabio Jakobsen, while last year’s stage winner Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious) came up too late to finished fourth.
Safely ensconced in the peloton, Roglic won the overall classification and mountains classification and so lifted the spectacular trident winner’s trophy for a second time in his career. He also won the points classification.
Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) finished second overall at 18 seconds, with Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) third at 23 seconds.
By the time the race hit 20km to go, the gap had dipped below 20 seconds but the escapees were not giving up and drew out their lead to over 25 seconds.
The bell rang for the final lap 14.6km to go and a lack of cohesion in the peloton gave the escapees another dozen seconds and their chances rose briefly.