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Primož Roglič powers ahead on the Angliru, with Jonas Vingegaard in his wheel and the third Jumbo Visma, and race leader, Sepp Kuss being distanced (Photo: Luis Angel Gomez-Sprint Cycling Agency)

Primož Roglič and Jonas Vingegaard should never have dropped Sepp Kuss on the Angliru during La Vuelta, and the evening after the stage Roglič had a “difficult time” accepting the team should ride for Kuss to win the race overall, according to one of the key management figures in the team.

Team directeur sportif, Merijn Zeeman, has now offered real insight into what was going on inside the team during that point of the race, with just four stages remaining and with Kuss on the cusp of winning overall.

While Kuss had ridden a brilliant race, Roglič and, especially, Vingegaard could probably have attacked him and taken the race lead from him. However, after the big three split up on the Angliru, the riders were all brought around a table for talks. It was at that point, Zeeman said, that Roglič had a tricky moment.

“Everything went the way we wanted again. There were three of us left and that was actually the moment when things didn’t go well,” Zeeman told the Met open vizier podcast of the Angliru ascent on stage 17. “Sepp couldn’t keep up with Primož and Jonas at one point. Then there was no more teamwork.

“Everything that happened up to that point had been teamwork but on the Angliru they should have stayed together. Attacking to make other riders have to work is something different to when you start attacking each other.

“I should add right away that when you ride uphill on gradients of up to 20 per cent you race with a heart rate of 200, so you can’t expect those guys to think clearly.”

Zeeman added the team’s ethos was always to consult the riders and encourage everyone “to talk to each other and no about each other”. For that reason, all eight riders were brought together for talks that night about what had happened during the stage and how they should approach the remainder of the race.

“I got eight grown men together and said, ‘guys, this is what happened today. I have my thoughts on this, but I think it’s much more important what you think’,” Zeeman said. “What do we stand for now? Who are we actually?

“Seven riders agreed that (Kuss claiming overall victory) must be the final result. Primož had a more difficult time with this, but he agreed to it. That was also because his team mates indicated it so forcefully. In the end he said, ‘Sepp has to win and you can count on me.’”

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