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The strange tale of Primož Roglič’s Giro ride on a teammate’s bike

A poorly timed natural break, a crash and a Movistar rescue mission made for an odd incident

Primož Roglič hasn’t enjoyed the Giro d’Italia’s last couple of stages, as he leaked time to rivals Richard Carapaz and Vincenzo Nibali. But light has been shed on the chaos of Sunday’s fifteenth stage when the Slovenian was forced to take teammate Antwan Tolhoek’s machine and ride the final 20 km on a bike that had a similar frame size to his, but with a different set up.

Roglič was already isolated on Sunday–something that has proved to be a big problem for the Jumbo-Visma rider in the race’s latter half–and soon after he went back to his team car for bottles, the car stopped so that the directeur sportif Addy Engels could have a natural break. It was the poorest of timings as Roglič suffered a front derailleur problem and couldn’t grab a spare bike. Along came Tolhoek, who gave up his ride and then stood awkwardly on the road with Roglič’s bike, seemingly stranded. He watched a team car pass him on its way to aid Roglič.

Movistar to the rescue! Their second car, containing Max Sciandri, found Tolhoek and offered him a Movistar Canyon bike. Once the bike’s pedals were swapped from Time to the Shimano ones on Roglič’s busted machine, Tolhoek was able to carry on.

Roglič caught up to his rivals on the Civiglio climb after a frantic chase back on. Meanwhile, it was decided that Roglič would carry on riding Tolhoek’s machine, which may have contributed to Slovenian’s crash on the Civiglio’s descent.

Afterwards, Ineos’s Pavel Sivakov was critical of Movistar’s riders for accelerating when Roglič was in mechanical trouble. At the end of the stage, the Jumbo-Visma ace had shipped 40-seconds to Carapaz and Nibali (and fined for a sticky bottle incident), but that was nothing compared to the 1:22 he would lose to them on Tuesday’s Stage 16.

Wait, it gets weirder. Some voices in the Italian press and the usual social media doofus brigade started questioning why Roglič’s bike wasn’t at the finish line in Como for UCI inspection. Cue the mechanical doping conspiracy theories. It turns out that Movistar had popped it on top of their car and carried it home.

His ride certainly got checked out after Tuesday’s disappointment.

Wednesday’s stage ended with a 4.3-km, 8 percent climb to Anterselva. Nan Peters (France/AG2R) soloed to the biggest victory of his career from a breakaway group. In the GC race, Richard Carapaz attacked in the final kilometre to buffer his lead over Roglič and Nibali by seven seconds, and Carapaz’s teammate Mikel Landa edged closer to Roglič’s podium spot.

Angel Lopez moved up a spot to sixth, while one of the day’s breakaways, Davide Formolo (Italy), usurped Jan Polanc’s tenth spot, giving Bora-Hansgrohe two riders in the top-10.

Before the tough final three stages, Thursday is one for the sprinters, namely two-stage winner Pascal Ackermann and points jersey leader Arnaud Démare.

2019 Giro d’Italia Stage 17

1) Nan Peters (France/AG2R) 4:41:34
2) Esteban Chaves (Colombia/Mitchelton-Scott) +1:34
3) Davide Formolo (Italy/Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:51

2019 Giro d’Italia GC

1) Richard Carapaz (Ecuador/Movistar) 74:48:18
2) Vincenzo Nibali (Italy/Bahrain-Merida) +1:54
3) Primož Roglič (Slovenia/Jumbo-Visma) +2:16
4) Mikel Landa (Spain/Movistar) +3:03
5) Bauke Mollema (The Netherlands/Trek-Segafredo) +5:07
6) Angel Lopez (Colombia/Astana) +6:17
7) Rafal Majka (Poland/Bora-Hansgrohe) +6:48
8) Simon Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) +7:13
9) Pavel Sivakov (Russia/Ineos) +8:21
10) Davide Formolo (Italy/Bora-Hansgrohe) +8:59