Roglic makes Vuelta statement with crushing time trial win

Madrid (AFP) –

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Slovenia's Primoz Roglic justified his tag as favourite to win the Vuelta a Espana on Tuesday by smashing his rivals in the individual time-trial on stage 10.

Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) posted a razor-sharp time of 47min 5sec to seize the leader's red jersey and move ahead of climber Nairo Quintana (Movistar), who lost more ground than he might have expected.

Quintana has slipped to fourth in the general classification, three minutes adrift of Roglic, while Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) in third is 2min 11sec back while world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is the closest, still 1min 52sec behind.

"These differences were predictable," insisted a defiant Valverde.

"It is clear that Roglic was the big favorite for this stage and he proved it," Valverde said.

"But the Vuelta still has a long way to go. One more minute, one less, that doesn't mean anything."

Former ski jumper Roglic banks on doing well in the tt and holding on in the hills.

"You just try to ride as fast as possible so I'm happy with the performance, for sure," Roglic said.

The crushing victory puts Roglic firmly in charge of the Vuelta, Spain's premier cycling event, whose tenth stage unusually took place entirely in France.

The 36.2-kilometre course between Jurancon and Pau was full of winding country lanes and technically demanding descents that were always likely to challenge those more comfortable on the climbs.

But Quintana would still have been disappointed with his showing, which leaves the Colombian with a significant gap to close in the event's more mountainous stages that remain.

Roglic edged out Patrick Bevin (CCC Team), who came second on the stage, with fellow Slovenian Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) the only general contender to make much of an impression. He remains fifth overall after winning stage nine on Sunday.

Bevin came in 25 seconds slower than Roglic while third-placed Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was a further two seconds back.

The eleventh stage on Thursday will see riders negotiate an 180-kilometre route between Saint-Palais and Urdax.