Pogacar punches the "Super Board", but does not kill the suspense

Pogacar punches the “Super Board”, but does not kill the suspense

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Forget that first communion smile, Tadej Pogacar is cruelty made man. During the 7e stage of the Tour de France, the Slovenian rider admired the charms of the Vosges then grabbed a nice “board” to slap his opponents on the head. Even with a helmet, the Dane Jonas Vingegaard risks waking up with a nice bump after seeing the yellow jersey pass him on the right in the last twenty meters of the climb of the Super Planche des Belles-Filles (Haute-Saône), with that sideways glance that seemed to say ” Hi, I’m here. » On a murderous and stony slope at 24%, it gives an idea of ​​the lucidity of the double winner in title.

Already winner the day before in Longwy (Meurthe-et-Moselle), the young man of 23 years (UAE Emirates) does not share, especially when he has “a step in mind for a while” like this Friday, July 8. The director of the Tour, Christian Prudhomme, is not yet to increase the bonuses of the 2e and 3e like his distant predecessor, Jacques Goddet, tired of the domination of the Italian Fausto Coppi in 1952.

Read also: Relive the 7th stage of the Tour de France: Pogacar wins the Super Planche des Belles Filles and wins his second stage in a row

For the happiness and sanity of the current follower, Jonas Vingegaard refuses to lay down his arms. The rider of the Dutch team Jumbo-Visma never clocks more than 35 seconds at the end of this stage. And again, warns his teammate Christophe Laporte, “A short climb like that is really what Pogacar likes, it’s not Jonas’ favorite terrain”.

In a press conference, the yellow jersey also said in three well-calibrated responses that “the Tour was not over yet”evoked “not so huge differences” and pointed “very strong opponents as we have yet seen”. The rhetoric is known, but the leader of the race does not give in to false modesty.

Tadej Pogacar does not give away his toys

After all, he has yet to deliver his Grand Bornand 2021, a punchy stage during which he sent his rivals into the ropes. Geraint Thomas (Ineos) refuses to throw in the towel now. “Pogacar won today, but at least he didn’t put us in sight for two minutes”relativizes the Welshman, indestructible 3e in the general classification, at 36 years old.

Others have lost many feathers. The Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe) thus drops 1mn 39 seconds, Primoz Roglic reassures him, with his 12 seconds behind, two days after his roll caused by a bale of straw. The head is better, but for the body, on the other hand, the Jumbo-Visma physiotherapist risks charging overtime. “I am very happy to finish with the best. My pain is still there, it’s like I had stab wounds in my back”concedes the other Slovenian.

This Friday morning, some may have imagined Pogacar’s UAE reconnecting with the tradition of “dropping” the jersey to entrust it – and, with it, control of the race – to another formation. “Thursday, they spent a lot of energy to take back Van Aert [le Belge de l’équipe Jumbo-Visma avait mené une longue échappée] and that would be the best tactic for Pogacar and to rest his teammates, ” advanced the Frenchman from AG2R-Citroën, Geoffrey Bouchard.

But the Emirati formation does not know the energy saving mode. However, the opportunity was good with a breakaway of tough guys who left after 50 kilometers of rolling with their feet to the floor. Among the eleven runaways, the Germans Maximilian Schachmann and Lennard Kämna had a not too threatening profile to borrow the yellow jersey, put their Bora-Hansgrohe team to work and return it nicely later.

But no. Tadej Pogacar does not give away his toys. His men drove to keep the breakaway at three minutes. “Vegard Stake [Laegen] and Mikkel Bjerg shot like animalsgreets with his words, George Bennett, last comer in the band to Pogi. The breakaway was so strong, we had to shoot like that. I thought we’d catch them halfway, but they did an amazing job. »

“We showed that we were strong”

The New Zealander thinks especially of Lennard Kämna. Great talent but a sensitive personality, the German assumes that he is not just a cyclist, of putting the bike away when the brain saturates like in 2021 when he finished his season in May. But in his head, this climber is a customer. 800 meters from the finish, some colleagues were already updating his biography as a stage winner, two years after his success at Villard-de-Lans (Isère).

The fact remains that in its “Super” format, the Board shears the legs with its passages at more than 20%. Even more when a reinvigorated yellow jersey is thrown behind you for having met the gaze of his fiancée, the cyclist Urska Zigart. Lennard Kämna “parked” 100 meters from the finish line before finishing in a zigzag, victim of the slope, of Pogacar’s appetite but also of the hard work of his Sherpas, Brandon McNulty and Rafal Majka.

“In the climb, we showed that we were strong, no one says that our team is not at the level. I am so happy “confides the second. At 32, the Pole (winner of the polka dot jersey for best climber in 2014 and 2016) has put aside his personal ambitions and shines as lieutenant of this Slovenian kid, never the last to challenge his habits as a father. At UAE, the group lives well and the bubbles are out. “All the guys were there today. Now we can celebrate the victory: no more champagne! »demands a hilarious Majka.

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Geraint Thomas, he will wait to soak his lips in a pint of beer, his indulgence in the off-season. The winner of the Grande Boucle 2018 seeks the weakness of Tadej Pogacar in his collective. “He runs super well, but you know everyone finds his team a bit vulnerable – they run well, don’t get me wrong – but there are a few squeaks here and there. We have the number. The Jumbo too. »

Until proven otherwise, Tadej Pogacar has never been too sensitive or disturbed by the strength of numbers. Makes him talk about his legs. And so far, no one has found the parade.

The French have “planned” well

On his land, Thibaut Pinot did not have the legs (32e) to win at the top of his “Super Board”. But the Groupama-FDJ climber did his teamwork for David Gaudu, 6e 19 seconds behind Tadej Pogacar. “We are in the nails, about twenty seconds from the podiumrejoices the Breton. I had good feelings, not necessarily the best, but correct. »

Discreet but perfect since leaving Copenhagen, Romain Bardet finishes 8e two seconds behind his compatriot. In the general classification, the DSM rider occupies the 6e place three seconds behind David Gaudu. Behind an untouchable Tadej Pogacar and a very strong Jonas Vingegaard, the 3e stepping on the podium in Paris appears to be a far from unrealistic objective for the two Frenchmen.

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