Roglic hits first

The Slovenian wins the first high goal, Orcières-Merlette, in a group of 16 cyclists where the other favorite, Bernal, entered; the leader, Alaphilippe, and Landa.


Primoz Roglic was not so bad. The Dauphiné's wounds have healed. That is the main conclusion, perhaps the only one, that can be drawn from the first contact with the mountain of the 2020 Tour. The Slovenian won in Orcières-Merlette, thrown by the steamroller of the Jumbo, the team that skippers the race, but did so while in front of a group of 16 runners where almost all the big favorites entered, including the other capo, Egan Bernal, and the Spanish Mikel Landa. Only Richard Carapaz was missed, who reached 28 seconds. The leader, Julian Alaphilippe, did not have the strength to fight for the stage, but kept the yellow jersey. There will be more battles. And hopefully more beasts.

Orcières-Merlette is not an alpine colossus, 7.1 kilometers at an average gradient of 6.7%, but the legend of 1971 fills its ramps with epic, that day that Eddy Merckx, for the first time, had to bow to a rival. Luis Ocaña, the Spaniard from Mont de Marsan, or the French from Priego, launched a long attack on a stage even shorter than this Tuesday, of 134 kilometers, and took a minute: 5:52 to Van Impe and 8: 42 to a group with Zoetemelk, Petterson, Thévenet and the fearsome Cannibal. It was another cycling, the cabals were made with other digits, and the attacks from other distances, but even so they were brutal differences. The Big Day of Ocaña. Nothing to do with what happened in this distant 2020.

The first high altitude or the first relevant port of each great is always a thermometer, the answer to the many questions that crowd on the eve of the race and in the initial days of competition. Is the absence of Ineos at the head of the squad a sign of Bernal and Carapaz's weakness? Does the presence of the Jumbo at the head of the group demonstrate the strength of Roglic and Dumoulin? Is Movistar as bad as their poor results of the season indicate? Can Alaphilippe become as strong a candidate as in 2019? And Pinot? Is Landa a real alternative to the Tour? And the Colombians Quintana, Higuita, Urán, López, Martínez…? Is Adam Yates the good twin? Is the future called Pogacar?

There were not many responses. Virtually none. The first attack was made by an old rooster, Pierre Rolland, who at least served to sift through a group that looked more like a massive arrival than a mountain stage. No one else moved until after crossing the last kilometer banner, la flamme rouge, when Guillaume Martin decided to break the roller of the Jumbo, which at the time was headed by Sepp Kuss, just as Van Aert had done shortly before. The intense rhythm was releasing grapes from the cluster, nothing that cannot be neutralized in the next few days.

Roglic calculated his distance and struck the first blow of the Tour. Alaphilippe, a fast man, did not dispute the victory, but kept the yellow jersey with 4 seconds over Yates and 7 over the Slovenian ogre. In the main group, consisting of 16 riders, too many for an Alpine setting, there was also the reigning champion: Egan Bernal. In addition to Landa, ninth on the stage and 13th overall, 17 seconds behind. The same disadvantage that Nairo Quintana, PInot, Superman López, Dumoulin maintain ... There are eleven cyclists with the same time. Pogacar is closer, at 11 ". A handkerchief. Enric Mas reached nine seconds, not so bad, and appears in the classification at 26". While Carapaz walked almost half a minute away, that was the strangest thing. Few answers, hardly fights. And a lot of Tour ahead. Other cycling.

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