Slovenia's Roglic wins third straight Vuelta a Espana title

Team Jumbo's Slovenian rider Primoz Roglic holds his bike up as he celebrates with teammates after winning the 21st and final stage of the 2021 La Vuelta cycling tour of Spain, a 33.8 km time-trial race from Padron to Santiago de Compostela, on September 5, 2021. (Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP)

Slovenia's Primoz Roglic sealed a third successive Vuelta a Espana title after wrapping up the final time-trial stage on Sunday.

He becomes the third rider to have won the Spanish Tour three times after Tony Rominger of Switzerland (1992, 1993, 1994) and Spain's Roberto Heras (2003, 2004, 2005).

"I am honoured to win for the third time," said Roglic. "It was another beautiful day and it was three beautiful weeks.

"I am very happy for myself and the guys around me. This is truly a team effort."

The Jumbo-Visma rider finished 14 seconds ahead of his closest rival, Magnus Cort Nielsen, in the 33km time-trial at Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, the 21st and final stage.

That gifted Roglic the biggest overall winning margin, of 4min 42sec, since 1997.

Spain's Movistar rider Enric Mas, whom Roglic lapped on the time trial -- a discipline in which he is Olympic champion, finished second, with Australian Jack Haig of Bahrain Victorious rounding out the podium. 

"Sometimes you win by a big difference, sometimes by a little, but any way of winning is fantastic," said Roglic.

"We watched it day by day. I did my best and enjoyed it.

"It was a tough last stage," the 31-year-old added. "I just tried to focus on the stage today and do my very best. It's unbelievable, it's crazy."

Jumbo-Visma sports director Grischa Niermann said it was "great to finish the Vuelta in this way".

"We knew that Primoz would be the big favourite for today's time trial. He still had to go deep, but he managed to win the time trial. A great day."

Niermann added: "When I look back at the last three Vueltas, this is the first edition where we had everything under control the entire race.

"I think we played it well. I realize how special it is to win for the third time in a row."