Primoz Roglic: From ski jumper to winning the Vuelta a España
The incredible story of how an ex-professional ski jumper won one of the three biggest races in cycling.
Born in Trbovlje, Slovenia, Roglic dreamed of becoming a professional ski jumper from a young age. After showing promising results, at age 16, he became world junior champion. A year later, full of confidence -and perhaps showing signs of arrogance- the 17-year-old undertook his biggest jump to date at the national Nordic center in Planica. The teenager spun out of control in the air and landed headfirst leaving him unconscious and with a fractured nose.
After a lengthy recovery, Roglic surprisingly made a comeback to the professional scene. However, much to his disappointment, his results proved to be lackluster. Although Roglic’s talent was unquestionable, after suffering various injuries and seeing many of his less talented opponents beat him time and time again, he decided to call it quits.
It wasn’t long before he began looking for a new sport and cycling caught his attention for the similar physiques to ski jumping -notably being light-weight and having strong, explosive legs. He sold his motorbike and bought a road bike for the first time in his life. Having no experience in cycling, Roglic began searching on the internet and sending emails to Slovenian teams asking for a spot. Although initially skeptical of his age and lack of experience, after showing his talent as an amateur, the 21-year-old landed his first professional cycling contract with Adria Mobil.
After some impressive results, Roglic caught the attention of Frans Maassen, then sports director of Jumbo-Visma. After consulting his colleagues, Roglic was flown to the Netherlands to try out with Jumbo-Visma. As Maassen states it:
“This guy has a Ferrari engine. He’s ours.” -Then Sports Director Maassen after testing Roglic
After winning a contract with the prestigious Dutch team Jumbo-Visma, he has quickly risen to one of the team leaders and grand tour contenders alongside Dumoulin and Kruijswijk.
In the summer of 2019, after a hard-fought three-weeks in the Spanish heat, Primoz Roglic, against all odds, became the first Slovenian to win La Vuelta España.
Now, rather than hurdling down ski jumps, the Slovenian has set his sights on the biggest race in cycling, the Tour de France. As his team sports director Merijn Zeeman states it:
“We will do everything we can to conquer the yellow” -Sports Director Merijn Zeeman
After leaving professional ski jumping in 2013, it’s fair to say Roglic hasn’t looked back since.