June 24, 2017

Primož Roglič

(info about Primož Roglič)

Making his way on the road

Thomas Kieller

Primož Roglič: Training in Mojácar, Spain.

Light and with a well known strength of character, Primož is a natural in the mountain stages. He does not fear at all the ascents. As a matter of fact, he excels there. Moreover, he is also a good time trialist with several victories. During a race, we can see that he positions himself in a compact and aerodynamic manner in order to attack the course. To this date, his greatest accomplishment in this event is without a doubt his victory in the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia in 2016 where he has simply outclassed his opponents. Of course, we have to add to this his great achievement at the National Championships of Slovenia in 2016. The guy from Trbovlje is also a good overall rider with already several victories under his belt such as the Tour of Algerve in Portugal, the tours of Slovenia and of Azerbaijan. We must remember that before his career in professional cycling, the Slovenian man was launching himself from ramps in ski jumping. Oh yes, he was enjoying the sensation of flying in the air. He realized is longest jump in Germany with 183 meters. A distance that could make some shiver! His best results in this sport he obtained them when he was a junior with three first places. Indeed, he has put away his skis to take another path. It goes without saying that cycling and ski jumping are quite different concerning the necessary characteristics one must have in order to perform well, but it seems that it did not stop Primož in making his choice. He likes to train. With his good physical conditioning that he built with time, he succeeded to make his way in the world of cycling. He continues to improve himself in his craft with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. Without holding back, he is now biking on the road searching for good performances.

The phone-interview took place on June 19, 2017 at 17:00 when Primož was in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It was done in English.

Prelude – From June 14th to the 18th, 2017, Primož took part in the Ster ZLM Toer in Netherlands where he finished second in the general classification behind the Portuguese José Gonçalves. On this occasion, Primož won the prologue. He is now preparing and relaxing before his first Tour de France, starting July 1, 2017.

Ski jumping

Thomas Kieller: For the majority of us, ski jumping is quite an unusual activity. How did you start in that sport?

Primož Roglič: Actually, when I was a kid my neighbour was a coach in ski jumping. In my country, it is normal to practice this sport. You start really young. In my case, I was around seven years old. We had some small hills behind our house. So, that was the way I started.

Thomas: Oh! It’s a popular sport in Slovenia?

Primož: Yes. We are a small winter country. We made history in ski jumping and we are still making it with some skiers. It’s our national sport and it’s a part of our traditions. For many years, we had the biggest ski jumps. However, it’s not the case anymore.

Thomas: You have done some long jumps in your past like a 183 meter one in Oberstdorf, Germany in 2011. Did you like the sensation that procures ski jumping?

Primož: Of course, it’s a nice thing to fly as far as you can. I was really enjoying that part.

Transition to cycling

Thomas: So, why did you leave ski jumping for cycling?

Primož: It’s hard to say exactly. In ski jumping, you train differently. In cycling, you are normally just on the bike and you focus mainly on this. However, in ski jumping, you do a lot of different exercises. Obviously, there are the jumps, but you do also strength, power and agility exercises. You do flexibility, stretching and yoga. We did also acrobatics like gymnastics. Everything put together it is hard. I still have it because I spent so much time for the fitness part. But now, I’m on the bike. Obviously, if I’m able to compete against guys who are doing cycling since 15 years and me since five years, it means I have something which came from my past.

Thomas: In cycling and ski jumping, is there some similarities concerning the physical conditioning?

Primož (without hesitating): Oh! It is so different. I don’t think there is much similarity because when you jump it’s just a fraction of a second. Concerning cycling, you must do it for five to six hours and sometimes it’s even longer. That makes a big difference.

Thomas: I read somewhere that your coach in ski jumping did not want you and your teammates to do cycling. Can you elaborate why?

Primož: Yes. It is really simple. You should not do long rides because your muscles will become slower. You don’t want that in ski jumping. On the bike, you have to do all the times the same movement. For a ski jumper, it’s not what we are looking for.

Thomas: Are there elements that you brought to cycling from your background of a ski jumper?

Primož: Ouf! I don’t know. It’s a good question. May be a little bit of everything I have done in my past. Not a lot of people have the opportunity to be really good in two totally different sports. I know how it’s work in ski jumping and now as well in cycling. So, I want to use my experience and do the things which I believe are good for me.

Thomas: You started in cycling as an amateur in 2011. What are the first aspects that you had to work at it?

Primož: Well, I would say mostly just riding the bike. I had to take my bike and get the feeling for my legs. I remember when I started I was struggling to ride 30 km/h. However, I was able to go fast uphill because I was really light from ski jumping. But like I said, the race in cycling can last six hours and a lot of things can happen during that time. So, at the beginning, it was just learning for me. When you start racing, you see that it’s completely different and you can learn many things.

Thomas: Did you have a good cardio at the beginning?

Primož: Oh yes! I think so. I was really good concerning this aspect. The problem is that you have to deliver it. You have to make it happen during a race. That’s the thing.

Training of a cyclist

Thomas: If we look at your results, you are obviously a really good individual time trialist. What kind of exercises on the road do you do to improve yourself in this event?

Primož: I just try to sit at least three times a week on a time trial bike. I want to focus on my position and I want to be aerodynamic. We have to be really small all the time during this kind of event. You know, I’m not doing really a lot of kilometers for time trial. I would say around 150 km per week. That’s the normal training for time trial.

Thomas: And in the gymnasium, do you workout the strength of your legs?

Primož: Now I’m mainly training on the road. But of course, I’m doing some exercises in the gymnasium like small course and stability exercises when I have time. I will do more of it during the off-season. I want to go through every apparatus. I really want to exercise my whole body. My objective is to get strength. During the season, you really lose some muscles. You are just sitting on the bike and the main focus is on the legs. In the winter, I’m trying to do something for my upper body and my whole body as well. So, I’m doing a good training. But now during the season it is mainly on the road.

Thomas: You said that you are working also the upper body…

Primož: Yes for sure. You should not do a lot because as a cyclist you want to keep your weight as low as possible. You don’t want to have the unnecessary muscles. But still, it is useful to have strength and power in your upper body.

Thomas: I would like to know, do you lose a lot of muscles when you are doing a grand tour like the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España or the Tour de France which I think will be your first one in July 2017.

Primož: I don’t know for sure but I think you lose a little bit of muscles because it is really crazy. It is a lot of stress on your body. Those are three week races. You can probably feel it on your body.

Thomas: We know that individual time trial is demanding physically, what is the approach one must have in a race?

Primož: Normally, I want to focus on the course. I want to have the whole race in my head meaning all the corners and how it will be. When the race starts, I’m focusing on being small, producing power and just trying to go through the course.

Thomas: You are also progressing really well as an overall rider. You turned professional in 2013. So, you are a fast learner. What do you do concerning the mountain stages?

Primož: Yes I’m doing this as well. I really like climbing. I think I still need to do some small things because I want to do well in the mountains. So, I’m doing a lot of climbing. Besides, for me, it’s not difficult to do it at home. I have a lot of hills here. Every time I want I can go and I can bike on steep or not so steep climbs. Also, with my team, we have trained in altitude and we did some seven hour rides. So, it was some good long training.

Primož Roglič: An ascent in Mojácar, Spain.

Thomas: What do you want to develop concerning your physical conditioning and concerning the technical aspect of cycling?

Primož: At the moment, nothing because I’m waiting for the Tour de France to start. But for sure, I need to improve my positioning in the peloton. The main thing for me is riding and just learning.

For the off-season, we will see how it goes. I just want to continue on my way. Maybe I will lose one or two kilograms in the future, but it’s nothing really big. I don’t have to do huge things. It’s more the details that I have to improve. I will go this way.

Last words

Thomas: Since 2016, you are with Team LottoNL-Jumbo. Do you like to be part of a team sport where strategy is important?

Primož: Oh yes for sure. The people don’t see everything. But when you become a cyclist, you can see how the things go. Cycling is a team sport. We have to work together in order to achieve good results. So, for that part, I like it a lot.

Thomas: And do you like the atmosphere of the group?

Primož: Yes. I’m really happy in my team. It’s why I will ride with them for the next year. They help me a lot and together we learn. It is a really nice place. I learned really a lot. They gave me a nice opportunity.

Thomas: Are you excited to be part of your first Tour de France?

Primož: Oh yes! It is a little bit crazy. I almost dream about it. Here I am now. We start on the first of July.

Thomas: Thank you Primož for the interview.

Primož: Ciao.