La Planche des Belles Filles and Monte Lussari, two monsters with similar slopes, but which made Primoz Roglic live very different emotions. While during the Tour de France 2020, the Slovenian had conceded nearly two minutes to his compatriot Tadej Pogacar during the time trial between Lure and this Planche des Belles Filles, giving him the yellow jersey at the same time on the eve of the finish in Paris, this time he overturned the Giro in the other direction by dominating Geraint Thomas at the end of a sumptuous last climb. A demonstration of resilience for the three-time winner of the Vuelta, who had lived a real nightmare on the French roads three years ago.
On September 19, 2020, Primoz Roglic had everything in hand to bring the yellow jersey back to the Champs-Élysées and succeed Colombian Egan Bernal. Leading the general classification since the 9th stage and 57 seconds ahead of his compatriot, the Slovenian approached the time trial of the Planche des Belles Filles as an ultra-favorite. Especially since he had still dominated all his competitors at the top of the Col de la Loze three days earlier and Tadej Pogacar did not seem able to challenge him for the final victory.
" READ ALSO "It's the Merckx of modern times": Tadej Pogacar, the new cannibal, is he unbeatable?
Tour de France 2020: cruel Planche des Belles Filles
But the future two-time Tour winner had the perfect day. Unstoppable, the UAE Emirates rider, just 21 years old, had started perfectly the 36 km of this 20th stage. Leading the first intermediate with a 13-second lead, he quickly blew into the neck of his opponent, who was already struggling to maintain his advantage even before the final climb.
At the foot of the Planche des Belles Filles, the fictitious gap in the general classification was already only 20 seconds ahead for Primoz Roglic. But beyond the stopwatch, it was above all the visual impression that made the spectators understand that the scenario was going to be crazy. The helmet back, the face white as a cloth, the muscles hyper tense, the Slovenian showed his poor state of form, at the worst moment.
On the contrary, Tadej Pogacar seemed to be flying. Imperial, serene from start to finish, he easily won the stage, relegating Tom Dumoulin, his closest pursuer, to 1′21''. At the end of the roll, Primoz Roglic only hung on to 5th place, behind his Belgian teammate Wout Van Aert, not a specialist in such steep climbs. "Recognising the course that morning was too much. I should have done something much quieter," Primoz Roglic said a few months later, adding that the result "was brutal, devastating."
" READ ALSO "I put the barrel of the rifle under my throat, the finger ready to press ... ": Luc Leblanc, from summits to hell
Giro 2023: revenge
Three years later, it is he who has just inflicted this stinging defeat on Geraint Thomas. The scenario is almost identical, although the differences are smaller. While the Briton was 26 seconds ahead of his opponent, he also completely cracked in the final climb of this solo effort. Two seconds behind at the foot of the impressive Monte Lussari (7.8km at 11.2%), the Ineos-Grenadiers rider had a catastrophic end to the course.
As soon as the bike changed, to switch to a mount more adapted to the mountain, Geraint Thomas made fear the worst. Perhaps too serene, he took the time to change helmet, unlike the majority of riders. And his rise was of the same ilk as this change of helmet, too slow. Visibly suffering, the winner of the Tour de France 2018 completely lost his footing, despite the chain jump of his opponent that should have allowed him to maintain his advantage.
🤯 BUT WHAT IS THIS GIRO? 🤯
Geraint Thomas completely cracks after Primoz Roglic's chain jump, and it is the Slovenian who will win this 106th Giro d'Italia! #Giro #LesRP pic.twitter.com/vfpcY5stof
— Eurosport France (@Eurosport_FR) May 27, 2023
At the finish, he finally conceded 40 seconds to the Slovenian, 14 too many. A delay that he has almost no chance of catching up this Sunday during the last stage that will bring the riders back to Rome after 135 km particularly flat. "I had good legs until halfway through the climb," the Welshman told Eurosport at the finish, assuring that "Roglic deserves it. Even if I had a mechanical problem, it took me 40 seconds. Hats off to him. A cruel scenario for the Welshman but a revenge for Primoz Roglic, who will hang tomorrow after the last stage a fourth Grand Tour to his palmares. And that erases that terrible memory of 2020.