With Primoz Roglic on the start list, Stage 10 of the Vuelta a España had the potential for a debacle for many of the other GC contenders if the Jumbo-Visma rider was in the mix. And that's how it turned out but Movistar's Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana remain optimistic of a full turnaround in fortunes.
By
Cycling Central

4 Sep 2019 - 9:52 AM 

Just 48 seconds in arrears to Slovenian compatriot Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) before the 36.2km TT, Roglic did as expected and put his opponents to the sword, in particular, the Movistar master duo of Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde.

Of the two, Valverde is now best placed after posting the 13th quickest time, one minute and 38 seconds behind Roglic. The result has him in second place overall at one minute and 52 seconds.

"Well, it’s not too bad. It’s within what we expected. He [Roglic] was the strongest favourite for this TT," Valverde said. I felt well, maybe a bit emptier near the end, but it’s normal, it was a long course."

Experience gives you context and Valverde, more than most, has it in spades. Wearing the UCI Road World Champion jersey at 38, the seemingly ageless WorldTour veteran predicts the Vuelta is far from over.

"I took some time yesterday to look thoroughly at what’s left in this Vuelta, and it’s incredible, so many hard mountains still remaining," he said. "We’re still in contention...we still feel alright and anything can happen.

"As well as Roglic, who has already shown how strong he also is uphill, and [Miguel Angel] Lopez, Pogacar will also be a rival to take into account. Hadn’t he crashed at the opening TTT, he would be even closer to us.

"Let’s go day by day, there’s still a lot to happen in this race. It will be another tricky finish tomorrow."

Roglic in La Roja after blowing away Vuelta TT field
Primoz Roglic delivered a dominant performance in the 36.2km time-trial from Jurancon to Pau to claim both the stage win and the leader’s red jersey after 10 days of racing in La Vuelta 19.

Quintana, never strong against the clock, does not have the luxury of context, there is work to do. He finished 27th on the stage at three minutes and six seconds and dropped from first to fourth overall, exactly three minutes behind Roglic but only 49 seconds from a shot at a podium place currently occupied by Astana's Lopez.

“It’s clear that while we worked to obtain a better result, it wasn’t my best time trial ever," Quintana said. "I hoped to be around two minutes behind Roglic; three is more than I expected.

"Still, though, we’re into the overall fight. The fact that I didn’t do a good time trial doesn’t mean I’m not feeling strong. There will be chances to attack in the upcoming stages, to seek some good strategies with the team and take advantage of the race situations to make up time against Roglic.

"We’ve been in similar situations to this in the past and, even though some did go as expected, others turned into a massive success. Let’s see how we can do in the next few days.

"Alejandro is still close in the GC, and with him and myself, we’ve got two strong chances. I’ve got nothing to lose. Let’s take advantage and enjoy the race.”