Over the past three weekends cycling fans have been treated to three quite extraordinary races.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The latest may not have resulted in the winner taking home a yellow or rainbow jersey as Tadej Pogacar and Julian Alaphilippe did following their respective Tour de France and world championship wins, but those that tuned in on Sunday will have taken something much more valuable away from Primoz Roglic’s dramatic victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.” data-reactid=”18″>The latest may not have resulted in the winner taking home a yellow or rainbow jersey as Tadej Pogacar and Julian Alaphilippe did following their respective Tour de France and world championship wins, but those that tuned in on Sunday will have taken something much more valuable away from Primoz Roglic’s dramatic victory at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
A fortnight after enduring the crushing disappointment of losing the leader’s yellow jersey at the Tour on the road to La Planche des Belles Filles, Roglic bounced back in the best way imaginable.
In a scene not too dissimilar to Óscar Freire’s famous win at the 2004 Milan-Sanremo, when the Spaniard pipped Erik Zabel to the line on Via Roma, Roglic pounced to deny an already celebrating Alaphilippe a first win — in a monument — in his newly-acquired rainbow jersey.
“Finally, I managed to win something, eh!” Roglic joked. However, while much was made of this throwaway line from the usually taciturn Slovenian, it was the determination with which he approached the line that should be focused upon. “I just never stopped believing,” he added. “[I] kept pushing until the last metres, actually the last centimetres.”
Whether you are one of the numerous doubters or growing number of believers, you cannot deny that Roglic is as an inspiration.
By contrast, the great entertainer himself provided proof — if needed — one must never assume the win is in the bag, not until the line is crossed.
Though Alaphilippe’s premature celebration was ultimately academic after he had been relegated to fifth following an irregular sprint, the image of the world champion nearing the line arms spread wide will live long in the memory. A lesson for all up-and-coming young riders.
It was heartbreaking, yet heartwarming. Painful and powerful. It was a lesson, too, for non-riders. It was a metaphor for life itself: never give up and never expect any gifts, even if you are the new world champion.