“I think if anything, the Dauphiné has shown that if you can follow Jumbo or Ineos when they make the rhythm in the climbs, and avoid the trouble in those first stages, then you can get to that third week where it’s happening really. be like a death march towards Paris, ”said Porte.
“Last week, the stages are so brutally hard that the race is not over before Paris. I would say that when I did the reconnaissance of the last stages, it will probably be the most difficult Tour. And it’s such a tough start too. ”
Mollema agreed with his co-leader, saying the duo can hopefully help each other in difficult stage finals, where some solo team leaders could be isolated.
“We just have to be up there with any luck with the two of us,” said the 33-year-old Dutchman. “Of course, you can help each other if you’re both in the final and there is only a small group left. Just by being there, I think it would help a lot already.
“I think there are a lot of strong teams, look at Jumbo-Visma, which will probably have a few guys up there – Ineos Grenadiers and several other teams as well – with good climbers and guys from GC so you almost have to to be standing there with both of us fighting with them.
“My goal right now is to get my own level over the next few weeks and show that I can be up there with the best riders. I think I have had the best preparation possible over the past few months. ”
Both men have agreed that the first week will be crucial for what unfolds for the remainder of the race. The top arrivals at Orcières-Merlette and Mont Aigoual will be the first tests of the GC, and with several big names (Romain Bardet, Julian Alaphilippe, Dan Martin) claiming to focus on stage victories, we will have a first idea of who is really in the GC Combat.
“Already after a week I think you know where you are compared to all the other competitors,” said Mollema. “I think after a few mountain stages in the first week, you can already decide the last two weeks what to focus on. Then last week will be brutal. I just saw the overall result of last year – four guys in two. minutes – I don’t think it will be this year. ”
Porte added that the race could be tough for the three weeks, at least if the Critérium du Dauphiné was something to do.
“Right now it looks like all of the GC leaders on every team are saying they’re here for the stages or they’re injured,” Porte said. “I don’t know what that means for the race. If we run like we did in the Dauphine which, as I said before, looked like five consecutive one-day races, then it might be tough for the length of time the race is going for, but fingers crossed that we can get to Paris.
“I don’t think there’s ever an opportunity in the Tour to relax, especially the first week where it’s a disaster if you waste seconds, it’s going to be minutes last week. At least we’ll get to know the order a little bit. shortly before stages 4 and 6, the first rigorous finishes. ”