Tadej Pogacar has everything to lose during the Alpine weekend of the Tour de France – .

Tadej Pogacar has everything to lose during the Alpine weekend of the Tour de France – .

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The Tour de France is both locked in and wide open as the race heads to two short and explosive stages in the Alps this weekend.

Tadej Pogacar’s dominant opening week was almost wiped out by ruthless play from Richard Carapaz and Ineos Grenadiers on Stage 7 on Friday, which serves as a warning of what is to come in the high mountains.

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After being forced up to the front for most of a grueling marathon stage on Friday, the under-equipped UAE-Team Emirates were left in tatters on the road and Pogacar was exposed. Ineos Grenadiers smelled blood and Carapaz looked ready to bite into Pogacar’s grip on the GC. The decision was unsuccessful, but it will not go unnoticed aboard the UAE team’s bus.

“Everyone knows he has to take time in Tadej,” Dan Martin said of the mountains ahead.

“You have a lot of strong teams, Ineos, Jumbo, they still have a lot of high GC riders, and they have to take a long time, and everyone sees UAE as a weaker force in GC combat. “

“Tadej is probably the stronger but he has a team that potentially cannot control the race. They’re a lot stronger than they were last year, but that’s a bit of an unknown. It will be interesting to see how aggressive people are from afar.

The Alps are set to host a key battle in the overall Tour classification this weekend.

Ineos Grenadiers must keep trying to rule Pogacar before he gallops too far on the horizon. With aggressive Carapaz and Geraint Thomas still in contention, Pogacar’s gap of 1h40 seems much less certain than it was on Friday morning.

And it’s not just Carapaz that Pogacar has to worry about.

Wout van Aert fought until the break of the day in search of a stage victory or to set up teammate Primoz Roglič to finish more than three minutes ahead of Pogacar after a UAE -Team Emirates under pressure lost control of the race.

It’s just as good that van Aert went on the attack, because behind him Roglič collapsed, losing more than four minutes to all of his main rivals.

Jumbo-Visma’s overall standings now rest on the unlikely shoulders of classic van Aert and Tour rookie Jonas Vingegaard. Van Aert could last longer in the mountains than some imagine after his exploits in last summer’s Tour and in this spring’s Tirreno-Adriatico, but it is the rising talent Vingegaard who is the best prospect in the game. Dutch team to get on the podium.

And that’s not to mention the dark threat from veterans Rigoberto Urán and Vincenzo Nibali.

Pogacar has everything to lose as the Tour tilts upwards.

Best favorites after stage 7 (with partial times on Pogacar):

  1. Tadej Pogacar: –
  2. Vincenzo Nibali: +0: 29
  3. Rigoberto Uran +1: 21
  4. Jonas Vingegaard +1: 35
  5. Richard Carapaz: +1: 36
  6. Geraint Thomas : +1:46

Pogacar’s exposed belly

The peloton will head for the first time to the high peaks of this Tour de France on Saturday.

Multi-mountain stage 8 of 150 km ends with a long descent towards Grand-Bornand which could counteract the impact of mountain trains and control tactics.

Stage 9 on Sunday ends at the top of the 21 km climb to Tignes, where the strength of the group could prove favorable as the race reaches its first HC classified climb. Teams looking to topple Pogacar will have a range of moves they could work on in an effort to eat into the 22-year-old’s lead.

Stage 8 marks the start of an alpine weekend.

Pogacar was found to have rockets in his heels, but the first questions about the UAE’s strength were widely open on Friday.

After Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers placed the riders in the escape of the stars of the day, the Pogacar crew was forced to shoot much of the monumental 248 km of the Creusot. 20 km from the finish, the UAE-Team Emirates was suspended on the other side of the road, with only Rafal Majka guarding the side of Pogačar.

“They pressed like crazy at the start,” said Pogacar after the stage. “We tried to close the gap but it was complicated. “

“It was very demanding, I got really windy with my team, so I don’t know what we can do on Saturday… maybe just follow the others. “

Friday’s stage puts the Tour in perfect balance before two stages of less than four hours in the Alps.

“It’s Pogacar’s race to lose,” Simon Yates said on Friday morning. “He showed he has the best legs a mile in the TT.

“It puts a lot of guys in a position where they have to do something. And a lot of these guys are in a position where they have to do something – and some of these guys don’t normally try anything – they’re used to being more conservative in the wheels.

The rise of the HC in Tignes on Sunday could see Pogacar exposed.

The ball is in the court of Ineos Grenadiers

Jumbo-Visma will not give up on his efforts after Roglič’s loss – with van Aert and Vingegaard so high in the overall standings, the two leading men of the team will not have a chance to race for the breakaways. However, with highlander Robert Gesink out of the race and Tony Martin, Mike Teunissen and Steven Kruijswijk bearing enough injuries to fill a hospital ward, Jumbo-Visma will have to sit and wait rather than play the offense.

And Ineos Grenadiers?

It will be a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’, as the UK-based team seek to rip open the exposed belly of UAE-Team Emirates.

“The Pogacar team have a lot of work to do,” said Ineos Grenadiers sporting director Gabriel Rasch. “They are not as experienced as a runner or a team in defending a jersey.

“We have to wait for the right time and attack them when the team is vulnerable. We have to look for the possibility. It depends on the scene.

Thomas may still be healing the nagging pain from his dislocated shoulder, but Carapaz, adapted to the altitude, proved on Friday that he should have the courage to fight Pogacar one-on-one if the situation arises .

“We were hoping the UAE should ride all day today and they did. Carapaz is in a good position, we will try to use it as best as possible, ”Thomas warned on Friday.

Pogacar won’t sleep so easily on Friday night.


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