Tour de France I The Tour debates: Did Pogacar capitalize enough on his superiority?

Tour de France I The Tour debates: Did Pogacar capitalize enough on his superiority?
Tour de France I The Tour debates: Did Pogacar capitalize enough on his superiority?

A record Tour for the French?

For the moment, the Tour de France record for this century dates back to 2010 for the Tricolores, with six stage victories. Half of the journey has therefore been completed before even the halfway point of the Tour, with the successes of Romain Bardet, Kevin Vauquelin and therefore Anthony Turgis. But the second half promises to be even harder, and probably too much.

Even if the parallel with 2010 is tempting, no Frenchman being able to shine in the general as then (Gadret had finished 18th), the profile of the remaining stages does not favor the French, who cannot win on the pedals or in the sprint (except for the exploit of Démare), nor in the mountains. Then there remain the stages of Lioran and Barcelonnette, and perhaps that of Dévoluy, doomed to a breakaway. But succeeding in the triptych seems impossible to me.

The big guns in action, Turgis steals the show: summary of an exciting stage

The race is indeed going to get tougher. The fight for the general classification promises to intensify as the days go by, the stages will also be tougher and it will be all the more complicated for the French to shine. On these predictions, it seems difficult, if not impossible, to see the French riders win three more stages, and thus equal the 2010 record. But seeing them already have three to their credit was almost as much before the start of this Tour de France, especially with the retirement of Thibaut Pinot and the absence of Julian Alaphilippe.

That’s what gives me hope. This Tour has some surprises and some great ones in store. The stage on the white roads of Troyes, even if the French had behaved well on the Strade Bianche at the beginning of March, did not really suggest a victory for Anthony Turgis. It also saw a return to form for David Gaudu. We should not rule out the possibility of seeing Romain Bardet shine again for a last stand. And it is not forbidden to think that Decathlon-AG2R La Mondiale is finally launching its Tour with a victory for one of its French riders. So, maybe…

Turgis: “Winning the Tour is the Holy Grail”

Was Vingegaard a weakling?

Yes. So, let’s be clear from the outset, this is understandable. The Dane was not on his bike after his mechanical incident, he still had teammates behind him and was theoretically less strong on the white roads and more generally on this first week than Tadej Pogacar, or even Remco Evenepoel. But by going out with the Belgian and the Slovenian, Vingegaard could probably have created big gaps on the other leaders for a podium which is the Dane’s stated objective, which we can doubt given his attitude. Especially given his uncertainty over the long term.

Once again, he was caught by the implacable and cold reasoned logic of Visma|Lease a Bike and it was perhaps wiser. Perhaps he will have been right in two weeks in Nice. But it was also clearly a huge lack of panache, regrettable, and that is also why my heart will always lean towards the madness of Pogacar or Evenepoel.

Vingegaard does not “pass” with Pogacar and Evenepoel

The Troyes stage would clearly have been more vibrant if Vingegaard had collaborated with Pogacar and Evenepoel when they found themselves detached from the competition. The Dane had the opportunity to distance rivals in the race for the podium and he chose not to seize it. This risk is obvious for the double defending champion. However, it seems impossible to me to see it as a strategic error. Vingegaard did not have Pogacar’s certainties on the white roads, he would have exposed himself by cutting himself off from his teammates.

It wasn’t his game because the situation remains the same for the Dane. He was in the first week of his comeback race, he is supposed to gain momentum over the stages and his main objective on this first third of the Tour was clearly to concede as little time as possible. He didn’t play small in my eyes. Tactically, he and his team just managed this stage to perfection. Also because they entered into a psychological war with Pogacar and Evenepoel that they seem to me better equipped to win it.

Violent attack by Evenepoel, Pogacar and Vingegaard follow with a time delay

Did Pogacar capitalise enough on his superiority?

Taking 1’15” from Jonas Vingegaard on the pedals in this first week, not very mountainous, is a significant margin when you consider the overall level of the two men on the Tour de France in recent years. Above all, if there is one thing that Pogacar showed us last year, it is that a rider returning from injury and who has not raced for 2 and a half months can perform immediately. Holding out for 3 weeks is another.

This is where I would expect Vingegaard to make a turn and therefore in this third week so difficult that Visma|Lease a Bike considers to be in his favor. I doubt it a little more and that is why Pogacar’s lead seems significant to me. Could he have done better? Without a doubt, if the wind had not been against him in the Galibier… Are there any regrets to be seen on his margin? In my opinion, no. There was hardly any ground to do better.

Pogacar plays his penultimate card of the day, Vingegaard towed by his teammates

No. I agree with Jean-Baptiste on the significant gap given this first third of the course, tricky but certainly not selective enough. In these conditions, I think he should have acted differently in the Galibier, the most favorable terrain to distance his rivals, starting with Vingegaard. This is where he could best use the armada he has in the mountains, and it did the job to operate a big selection. But he should have started earlier, not in the last kilometer before the summit.

I don’t see much to say about the rest of his individual performances, especially on the time trial where I saw him losing more time to Evenepoel. For me, if “Pogi” started with a very clear advantage over Evenepoel and Vingegaard at the start of this Tour, it’s also because he was better surrounded. And precisely, the Galibier is the only moment where the power of UAE-Emirates was really felt. For me, Pogacar had to establish his superiority at the start of the Tour and mark the competition. But on this first third of the event, I rather saw his rivals gain confidence.

Pogacar accelerates 90km from the finish, Evenepoel goes after him

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