No wings from Red Bull: What went wrong for Primož Roglič in the Tour de France?

The Slovenian rider couldn’t follow the main general classification contenders and lost time to his key rivals on stage two

For all the newly-designed jerseys, the snazzy new paint job on the team bus, the big press event hosted in Austria last week, the talk about the potential their new sponsor had to transform their team, Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe have not delivered on the opening weekend of the 2024 Tour de France. 

Everyone knew that attacks would be made on this weekend’s hilly stages in the Tuscan Apennines. Tadej Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates had made their ambitions clear ahead of the race: the route suited their star rider, and they were going to attack hard to capitalise on it. Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe would have known that they needed to remain alert on the San Luca climb and throughout the punchy finishing circuit in Bologna, but when the time came, they missed it.

After the stage, Primož Roglič, Jai Hindley and Aleksandr Vlasov finished the stage 21 seconds behind Pogačar and they rolled in looking hot and exhausted. They cannot be criticised for a lack of effort, but the team performed below expectations today.

“It was full gas, cooking out there all day and really on and off on the climbs,” Hindley said after the stage when questioned about what went wrong for the German squad. “It was a pretty strange day and then full gas both times up San Luca. If I had the legs I would also be up there but I was really on the limit, it was an all out effort to be in the group. Once we hit the top I could come to the front and pull with Aleks and we limited losses as best as we could. It was good teamwork in the end and we gave it everything.”

Rolf Aldag, Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe’s team boss, shared Hindley’s sentiment. He explained that with Roglič only having joined the team this season, the team still has work to do when it comes to smoothing out teething issues.

“I'm sure the team did a brilliant job and Primož tried what he could, we cannot be angry with anybody. Commitment is definitely there and we did practise in Dauphiné really really well and I know that there is still fine-tuning to do,” Aldag said. “It’s very obvious that the situation is different if you ride for eight years in a team and half a year in a team. We have to compensate for some of the history by extra commitment which I feel like the team did today and will continue to do.”

The team were insistent on pointing out that this Tour de France is still in its infancy. Riders like Pogačar and Vingegaard were firing on all cylinders early on, but the saying, although cliché, is true: ‘the Tour is long.’ There are still 19 stages remaining and everything can change over the next three weeks. Riders can come in and out of form, and there’s plenty of time for Red Bull-Bora-Hansgrohe to change their fortunes.

“We always predicted Tadej would test Jonas in the beginning to see how good he is and I think he will keep doing that. I think he’ll find the future strategy to see if he relies on climbs or time trialling. We have to see how we are, no one is going to be 110% for the whole tour de france and if that was our 98% today then I go with a smile to the next day,” Aldag said.

Hindley was also keen to remain optimistic, stating that there are lots more positives to be taken from today’s stage. There’s still opportunities to turn it all around.

“We’re only 48 hours into a three week race, there’s plenty of races to come,” the Australian said. “It wasn’t a disaster day. The team rode really well and also before the final circuit we rode extremely well. There’s plenty more days to come.”

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