Vuelta a Espana: Roglic aims for historic success as Valverde has his last dance

By Sports Desk August 18, 2022

Primoz Roglic will set out on a mission to create cycling history as the Slovenian gets his Vuelta a Espana campaign under way on Friday.

The 77th edition of the Grand Tour starts in Utrecht, with the opening three stages taking place across the Netherlands before the caravan transfers to Spain.

It is only the fourth time that the Vuelta has started outside of Spain, after doing so in Portugal in 1997, the Netherlands in 2009 and France in 2017.

Spanish riders have won 32 of the previous 76 editions, but not since 2014 has a Spaniard triumphed, when Alberto Contador tasted glory.

It is the longest wait for a Spaniard champion in the race's history, and in the last three years, it is Roglic who has dominated.

Meanwhile, Alejandro Valverde, the 2009 champion, will bid goodbye to his home Grand Tour.

 

Roglic's shot at history

Roglic won his first Vuelta title in 2019 and successfully defended in 2020, despite his heartbreaking defeat to Tadej Pogacar at that year's Tour de France.

He crashed out of Le Tour in 2021 but bounced back in style, winning Olympic gold in Tokyo before clinching a third-straight Vuelta triumph to match the feats of Tony Rominger (1992 to 1994) and Roberto Heras (2003 to 2005).

Now, Roglic has history in his sights. Only Heras has won the Vuelta on four occasions, but no rider has ever won it over four successive years.

The 32-year-old Roglic's Tour de France again ended early this year, as he watched team-mate Jonas Vingegaard storm to success and set up a rivalry with Roglic's compatriot Pogacar that should enthral for years to come; but at the Vuelta, Roglic is Jumbo-Visma's main man.

Roglic has won the Vuelta in all of his three appearances, reaching nine stage wins in this period, more than any other rider (Fabio Jakobsen is the next best, with five to his name). He also claimed the points ranking in both 2019 and 2020, and could equal Erik Zabel (three) as joint-second on the all-time list for that classification, behind Sean Kelly, Valverde and Laurent Jalabert (four each).

"Of course the record gives me more motivation, it's special," said Roglic in a press conference on Thursday. "We're going to fight for that."

There are some concerns over his fitness after the injury he suffered at Le Tour, however.

Roglic said: "At certain moments I still feel some pain, but it is already much better than before. We'll see. If I get to the start here, it means I'm ready too. But I'll have to wait and see in the coming days and weeks to find out how it really goes."

Roglic could also feasibly set a record for the most stages wearing the red leader's jersey. He is currently level with Herras on 36, 12 behind Alex Zulle's haul of 48.

A last dance for Vuelta veterans?

Valverde, of Movistar, will be making his 16th Vuelta appearance. The 42-year-old has achieved more podium finishes in the general classification than any other rider, having done so on seven occasions, including his 2009 success.

If he completes the race, Valverde, who has won 12 individual stages at La Vuelta, will equal Federico Etxabe, Chente Garcia Acosta and Inigo Cuesta as riders who have finished the most times (14).

"To win a stage would be incredible," Valverde said on Thursday. "I don't believe I will be at the same level as the best during 21 days, but we do have a team-mate who can be among the top three or perhaps even win. What I see for myself is that I will try to win a stage."

Chris Froome, meanwhile, is a two-time Vuelta champion who is out to prove himself once more.

The seven-time Grand Tour winner has been struggling with COVID-19 in the build-up this time but is set to make his eighth appearance in the race, having finished on the podium four times, taking the 2011 and 2017 titles.

The first of those victories was only awarded to Froome in 2019 after original race winner Juan Jose Cobo was disqualified for a doping offence.

In a stellar career, Froome has become the first British rider to win all three of the biggest races in cycling.

 

Related items

  • Portugal 0-1 Spain: Late Morata goal steals place at Nations League Finals Portugal 0-1 Spain: Late Morata goal steals place at Nations League Finals

    Alvaro Morata's late goal gave Spain a 1-0 victory over Portugal and snatched a place at the Nations League Finals from their hosts in Braga.

    Spain needed to win to leapfrog Fernando Santos' side atop Group A2 but had looked set to be frustrated, with Portugal enjoying the better of the first-half opportunities.

    However, substitutions from Luis Enrique after the break changed the game, and Nico Williams' header across goal was smashed in by Morata to steal a precious victory.

    The dramatic win means Spain will join Croatia, Italy and the Netherlands at next year's tournament, with Portugal left to rue missed chances and sloppy defending in the closing stages.

     

  • Brazil 5-1 Tunisia: Neymar closes on Pele record as Selecao cruise in Paris Brazil 5-1 Tunisia: Neymar closes on Pele record as Selecao cruise in Paris

    Neymar closed in on Pele's all-time Brazil goalscoring record as the Selecao eased to a commanding 5-1 win over 10-man Tunisia at the Parc des Princes.

    Playing on his home ground at club level, the Paris Saint-Germain forward netted his 75th senior international goal from the penalty spot – moving two shy of equalling the tally of legendary striker Pele.

    Raphinha struck twice, while Richarlison and Pedro were also on target as Tite's side completed their World Cup preparations in emphatic fashion.

    Montassar Talbi scored what proved a consolation for Tunisia, who had Dylan Bronn sent off as they suffered their first defeat in eight games.

    Brazil led in the 11th minute when Casemiro's floated ball into the box was met by Raphinha, who sent a looping header beyond the dive of Aymen Dahmen.

    Tunisia responded as Talbi nodded in from Anis Ben Slimane's free-kick, but the Selecao regained the lead less than two minutes later with Richarlison latching onto Raphinha's neat throughball and drilling through Dahmen's legs.

    Neymar made it 3-1 when he calmly converted from 12 yards after Aissa Laidouni dragged down Casemiro, before Raphinha fired home his second goal of the game from Richarlison's lay-off.

    Tunisia were reduced to 10 men before the break with Bronn shown a straight red card for a rash challenge on Neymar.

    Antony and Vinicius Junior went close to increasing the advantage in the second half, before Pedro scored Brazil's fifth 16 minutes from time – the Flamengo forward brilliantly volleying in his first international goal.

    Casemiro and Thiago Silva each almost made it six, but the Selecao had already done more than enough to stretch their unbeaten streak to 15 matches.

  • Bavuma not interested in 'sideshows', Kohli prepares for 100th T20I innings Bavuma not interested in 'sideshows', Kohli prepares for 100th T20I innings

    Fit-again captain Temba Bavuma is not interested in "sideshows" as he prepares to lead South Africa in a three-match Twenty20 International series against India.

    Bavuma has not played for his country since suffering an elbow injury during a T20I series in India three months ago which ended 2-2.

    The batter has since spoken of feeling "let down" after he was not selected for the inaugural SA20 auction this month.

    Questions have been asked over Bavuma's credentials in the shortest format less than a month before the T20 World Cup in Australia begins.

    The Proteas skipper is ignoring such "distractions" ahead of the opening T20I against the top-ranked side in the world at Greenfield Stadium in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

    He said: "I've tried to put all those things behind me. My biggest focus is on the role that I have, which is to lead and serve the team as best as I can, make sure that the guys are in the best place possible going into that big World Cup tournament.

    "All other distractions, all other sideshows, that's stuff that I'll deal with on a personal level, but now, here, being within the team, as long as I'm still wearing that shirt, it will be to lead and serve the team as best as I can."

    Bavuma added: "This is our last series before the World Cup. Obviously we will be looking for this series to fill whatever gaps we feel there are in the team. We have guys who have been playing a lot of cricket and I guess we will be managing their intensity.

    "We also have guys who need some cricket under their belts. It will be to give those guys some game time because this is our last preparation in different conditions compared to Australia but still match time nevertheless.

    "The last time we were here, we were tested in all departments of our game and I think we answered well."

    South Africa have beaten England and Ireland since drawing with India, who come into this series on the back of a 2-1 triumph over Australia.

    The two sides will also meet in Group 2 at the World Cup in Perth on October 30.

     

    Kohli to reach another landmark

    Virat Kohli finally ended his long wait for an international hundred against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup this month.

    The former skipper is set to bring up another century, as his next T20I innings will be his 100th. Kohli will be only the 10th player to be at the crease 100 times in the shortest format on the international stage.

    Kohli has scored 3,660 runs from 99 innings, 684 more than the next best aggregate for any batter in their first 100 innings in men's T20Is (Martin Guptill – 2,976 runs).

    Proteas enjoying life on the road

    South Africa have won each of their past four completed T20I games away from home.

    The Proteas have been victorious six times on tour in 2022. Only in 2021, when they won 14 times away from home, have they bettered that tally in a calendar year.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.