Unable to drop Jonas Vingegaard, is Tadej Pogacar at the limit?

We’ve been waiting for this for a week. After his failure in the Granon, which had forced him to let go of his yellow jersey, Tadej Pogacar had to quickly take his revenge. So, we wondered during which stage the Slovenian was going to recover his due. Alpe d’Huez? Pogacar tried, in vain. Mende? The double winner of the Tour de France put his small attack, but Jonas Vingegaard countered well. So it had to be this Tuesday, during the first stage in the Pyrenees.

The Port de Lers-Mur de Péguère link was to be the scene of a new confrontation. Pogacar had warned, during the rest day, that the banderillas could be planted at any time. “I have to take every opportunity and attack as soon as possible, on every climb. Attack close, from a distance, I will try everything. There will be opportunities. In three days, a lot can happen. »

Three attacks in the Port of Lers

We were therefore not surprised to see Pogi launch the machine from the Port of Lers. Especially since the Jumbo-Visma had sent the patrol into the breakaway and the yellow jersey was only surrounded by Sepp Kuss and Tiesj Benoot. About fifty kilometers from the finish, Pogacar therefore put on the warm-up white: a frank attack, from the shallows of the peloton, which allowed him to take a fifty-meter lead. But that Vingegaard has filled in less time than it takes to write it. Bis repeated a few meters further. Same epilogue.

Tadej Pogacar tried a third time, at the top of the pass, to put the Dane on the ropes on the descent. But, when he had created a tiny hole, he dropped the matter, as if resigned to the fact that the yellow jersey followed him quite easily. “He tried to attack me, fortunately, each time, I was able to answer and put myself in his wheel, commented Vingegaard at the microphone of France 2. I did not really feel in difficulty. But it’s true that when Tadej attacks, you have to remain attentive and follow directly. »

“It didn’t make sense to attack on the last climb”

Enough, all the same, to ask questions about the state of form of Tadej Pogacar, especially since the Slovenian remained in the wheels in the difficult wall of Péguère, lush decor to make your best opponent suffer, while his Teammate Rafal Majka set a big pace at the front of the group of survivors. But it was not a question of legs assures the leader of UAE-Team Emirates, still on France Télé: “I am good. And it wouldn’t have made sense to attack on the last climb, with Van Aert super strong, so I couldn’t have made a difference. »

Yes, because the Belgian Swiss army knife had taken the breakaway with another teammate, to ward off any unpleasant surprises. “It was very important to have someone in the breakaway, because the last climb was very steep, and it was possible that Jonas would be isolated at the top, analyzed Van Aert after the race. It was the best tactic, so I can wait at the top. When he [Vingegaard] is all alone, it is difficult to respond to attacks. »

“There will be a lot of possibilities”

The Jumbo-Visma plan therefore worked perfectly. Sent in front, Nathan Van Hooydonck served as a relay in the descent of the Port de Lers, while Wout Van Aert put the gas after the wall of Péguère. And cut off the dolphin’s desire to become a shark. For today, anyway. Because Tadej Pogacar seems to still be hungry: “It was a difficult day, but I am looking forward to the other two stages. I think tomorrow there will be a lot of possibilities, it will be interesting. »

The sporting director of the Slovenian genius is also optimistic. “There were only three opportunities, notes Mauro Gianetti, now there are only two. But as long as there is hope, we try. We are in a position to be able to try. If Tadej is well, he will try again. We will have to do without Marc Soler, who arrived after the deadline after falling ill at the start of the stage. Tadej Pogacar has only four teammates left. Here too, the Slovenian is behind the Jumbo-Visma.

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