Primož Roglič has still to shave his legs but is enjoying being back in the peloton at Tirreno-Adriatico after a nearly six-month absence from racing and showed some form in the opening stages along the Tuscan coast.
The Jumbo-Visma rider has not raced since he underwent bone graft surgery last October to stabilise his left shoulder following the crash that forced him out of last year’s Vuelta a España.
Roglič will target the Giro d’Italia this year but only started training outdoors in early December after two months off the bike. He was expected to start his season later this month at the Volta a Catalunya, his competitive outing ahead of the Giro d’Italia, but added Tirreno-Adriatico to his calendar after a solid block of training at altitude.
“It’s nice to be back,” Roglič said on Tuesday, seemingly more focused on his recent training than his leg hair.
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“After an altitude camp, I felt I was good enough to race again. I did a big block of training, so I’m ready to start racing. After this race, we’ll see what we need to work on to improve to be better.”
Roglič finished 12th in Monday’s rain-soaked opening time trial and then finished in the peloton on stage 2 to Follonica after riding up front to stay as the sprint teams fought for position.
Roglič conceded 49 seconds to Filippo Ganna in the 11.5km time trial, far more than he usually would when at his best, but he was only one second slower than teammate Wilco Kelderman, who will also target the time trial-heavy Giro d’Italia.
Roglič won Tirreno-Adriatico in 2019, but he has far different ambitions this year as he works to build one single peak of form in May for the Giro d’Italia.
“I don’t want pressure from a GC perspective. That’s not the main goal here,” Roglič insisted.
“The goal is to start racing again and to be back in the peloton. I’ll see if I can ride with the best and go with them. We’ll try to do the best we can as a team here.”