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Gallery: Another steep stage in Spain

Joe Robinson
21 Aug 2021

Will anybody be able to loosen Primoz Roglic's grip over this Vuelta a Espana

Primoz Roglic is the Vuelta a Espana and the Vuelta a Espana is Primoz Roglic. He is an ever-present. The two-time defending champion, he is already back in the leader's red jersey and there is an ominous feeling it will remain that way until the race's end.

Ultimatetly, this is a race that suits the Slovenian down to the ground. While the Giro d'Italia is about opportunism and the Tour de France about preparation, the Vuelta is a race that suits those with utter grit and determination. Riders, who after a long season, can dig deep into their reserves and grind out results.

Roglic does this unlike anyone else. Just look at Stage 7 to Balcón de Alicante, the first real mountain stage of this year's race. Six categorised climbs over 152km with an insidiously steep summit finish. On paper, it looked like the perfect playground for rivals Movistar and Ineos Grenadiers to ambush the Slovenian. Use the numbers game to put Roglic and his Jumbo Visma team under pressure early in stage. Force him to chase and then crack him on the final climb.

A good tactic in theory but this is Primoz Roglic you are racing. You'll have to do better than what they did.

Eventually, by the end of the day, Roglic rolled over the line having lost no time to his closest rivals. In the process, he has even managed to put a further 30 seconds into Bahrain-Victorious' Mikel Landa and reduce Movistar's trident down to a duo with veteran Alejandro Valverde forced into an emotional abandonment after a crash early in the stage.

Such is Roglic's power over this race, courtesy of the day's breakaway, he even saw teammate and key mountain ally Sepp Kuss force his way back into the top 10 on GC.

And finally a word on stage winner Michael Storer. This victory felt like it was coming for the 24-year-old Australian from Team DSM and what a day to take it on.

Below, the best images from Chris Auld:

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