The Associated Press
ORCIERES-MERLETTE, France–Primoz Roglic asserted his Tour de France credentials with a victory in the first mountain stage Tuesday as Julian Alaphilippe kept the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Roglic, a former ski jumper from Slovenia who won the Spanish Vuelta last year, posted his third career stage win at the three-week race in the Alpine town of Orcieres-Merlette.
The 160.5-kilometre (100-mile) trek in the Hautes-Alpes marked the race’s first summit finish this year, with a final 7-kilometre climb up to the ski resort where Luis Ocana handed five-time Tour winner Eddy Merckx a resounding defeat back in 1971.
Roglic couldn’t shake off any of his main rivals on the final ascent but used his power to prevail in the sprint launched by Frenchman Guillaume Martin with 500 metres left. Roglic reached a speed of 52 kph (32 mph) as he raised both arms to cross the line.
“It was quite a fast day, it was hard but the guys again did a really good job,” Roglic said, thanking his teammates for their support in the final climb. “I was always in a good position and so could do a nice sprint, so I’m very happy.“
With his victory, Roglic erased all the doubts surrounding his form following his withdrawal from the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month because of injuries he sustained in a crash.
Roglic crossed first ahead of Tadej Pogacar and Guillaume Martin. Alaphilippe was fifth in the same time behind Colombian climber Nairo Quintana.