Tour de France 2021: The pack was struck by Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), but it did not surrender

Tour de France 2021: The pack was struck by Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), but it did not surrender
Tour de France 2021: The pack was struck by Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), but it did not surrender

We spared them nothing. Since the Grand Départ in Brest, on June 26, the peloton has not generally been entitled to any respite on the roads of the Tour de France. A mess of falls, a marathon stage carried out at a frantic pace, an alpine weekend in the pouring rain… The first day of rest, scheduled for Monday, was welcome. To rest severely strained bodies and heal wounds, on the one hand. But also to get back to the right place, after the passage of the tornado Tadej Pogacar.

Already impressive during the time trial between Changé and Laval on Wednesday – which he won – the UAE leader Emirates took advantage of the first two mountain stages, in the Alps, to knock out the competition. His incredible Saturday solo act was followed by another attack on Sunday towards Tignes. History to show his rivals that he fully intended to press where it hurts as soon as he gets the chance.

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“Pogacar ran like we didn’t exist”, even dropped Enric Mas (Movistar) on Monday. An assertion that says a lot about the feeling of helplessness of the other contenders for the general standings in the face of the “Pogi” phenomenon, clearly above the rest. General classification: Pogacar capitalizes, Martin 9th, Gaudu 10th: 2’01 “on the second, Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën). 5’18” on the third, Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo). “It disturbs a bit because he really dominated this first week, the gaps are already made”, breathed Frédéric Guesdon, the sporting director of Groupama-FDJ.

Richard Carapaz (INEOS-Grenadiers) and Enric Mas (Movistar) / Tour de France 2021

Credit: Getty Images

“I didn’t think the gaps would be that big after the first week”, a abondé Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step). “In the passes of Romme and Colombière, Tadej Pogacar amazed all the riders of the Tour de France. We are unanimous in saying that he was the strongest”, added David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ). Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) seems rather admiring: “When you see that he is without a team, he himself goes on the attack. He is from a new generation, he is not afraid”, analyzed the Messina Shark, winner of the Tour in 2014.

No question of “hoisting the white flag”

The superiority of the Slovenian is therefore unanimously recognized. In any case, one would have to take pleasure in the most total denial of reality not to be aware of it. But is the race already folded, is the yellow jersey definitely promised to the one who wore it on the Champs-Élysées last September? Certainly not. “It’s a long road to Paris. I don’t think hoisting the white flag and just riding for second place is on anyone’s plans,” EF Education-Nippo sporting director Tom Southam said in comments reported by Cyclingnews.

David Gaudu during the 8th stage of the Tour de France 2021.

Credit: Getty Images

10th overall and above all focused on the quest for a stage victory, David Gaudu remembers the recent Giro. “We saw Egan Bernal suggest that he crushed the Giro d’Italia in the second week, before making a little crunchy during the third. The Tour is still long, we only did two real mountain stages”, wanted to remind the Breton in front of the journalists. And to add, as if to insist on the fact that Pogacar is not immune to a bad surprise in the plain: “There are also stages where the wind could play a role.”

The wearer of the yellow jersey will therefore have to “watch out for the actions and traps of other teams, as well as long escapes that could get him into trouble”, insisted Vincenzo Nibali. The pack of pursuers and suitors is not fooled. She is currently outrageously dominated, and she knows it. But what she also knows is that it is still far too early to consider giving up.

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