Van Aert - Pogacar, who made the most impressive start to the Tour?  Does the Jumbo-Visma play on too many tables?

Van Aert – Pogacar, who made the most impressive start to the Tour? Does the Jumbo-Visma play on too many tables?

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Van Aert – Pogacar: Who made the most impressive start to the Tour?

Amaury Erdogan-Gutierrez

Two bouquets, four podiums: Tadej Pogacar’s first week is enough to turn some heads. Behind these statistical lines with a gleaming reflection, “Pogi” especially amazed me with its management at all times. Whatever the terrain or the elements, the Slovenian always finds the opening, flutters over the fleshy cobblestones of the “Hell of the North” and dodges the gadins. The most impressive thing about the case is that the native of Komenda manages on his own, or almost. Hirschi, Bennett and Soler unrecognizable, the Slovenian could only count on his faithful “gregario”, the talkative Majka, never stingy with comments for his young protege.

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Certainly, I hear it well, during the time trial in Copenhagen, the effort was lonely for everyone. But Pogacar’s mastery is not contagious and, without giving the impression of taking all the risks on the wet pavement of the Danish capital, the prodigy has inserted himself between the two best riders in the world. Except for a delayed start during the big unpacking of the Jumbo-Visma swarm on the Cap Blanc-Nez coast (4th stage), the double holder of the Grande Boucle has achieved a faultless performance. Pogacar dusts off the memories of the “fuoriclasse”, the use of which left the peloton a long time ago. The Slovenian ogre excels everywhere, sweeps away satiety with the backhand of a claw, and collects honours. All this against two armadas returned to their duties.

The joy just after the finish then the explanation with Majka: We board with Pogacar

Simon Farvacque

I have nothing to say about this praise, oh so legitimate, of Tadej Pogacar. But in terms of the standards he imposed on the peloton and on our minds, “Pogi” did “Pogi” at the start of the Tour de France. On the cobblestones, I imagined him at least as predatory. At altitude, it did not fly away. The outgoing double winner did not surprise me during these first eight stages – or only marginally -, while Wout van Aert blew me away.

The way he knocked Quinn Simmons off his wheel on Thursday during his yellow-clad swan song, the way he held off the whole peloton on the occasion of his first success of this edition, the domination which he again exercised this Saturday during the 8th stage: Wout van Aert is a leg above, in his register. He impresses me a little more than Pogacar, in this 109th Tour that the Slovenian will not win easily in my opinion. One thing is certain: the fight between these two men takes place in spheres whose height is dizzying.

The palette: how van Aert came out of the box to style Matthews and Pogacar on the line

Does the Jumbo-Visma play on too many tables?

Simon Farvacque

Yes, the Jumbo-Visma runs after too many hares at once, in my eyes. However, nothing beats winning and I cannot therefore condemn the attitude of the Dutch team, this Saturday in the direction of Lausanne. The final was cut out for Wout van Aert, why deprive yourself of offering him a golden opportunity to achieve one more success on this Tour? Certainly, but that meant giving Tadej Pogacar the opportunity to widen the gap, compared to Jonas Vingegaard, with “bonus” seconds.

Bingo, “Pogi” took four more seconds of margin, over his Danish rival, pushed back to 39″. This does not reflect an obvious strategic error, but it testifies to the paradoxical injunctions which govern the choices of the Jumbo. And if Van Aert – especially with the green jersey in mind – was too strong to appear in a team focused on the coronation, facing an opponent as formidable as the double defending champion?

Already, on the road to Arenberg, cutting the workforce in half to support Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard in their respective setbacks had been costly. The yellow and black armada is formidable because it does not count any fellows, but it may lack soldiers to compete with King “Pogi”. The hierarchy and the roles will probably be clarified, in the high mountain which is pointing the tip of its nose. Is there still time?

This time, Pogacar did not have the last word: Van Aert’s victorious sprint in pictures

Amaury Erdogan-Gutierrez

I share the concerns raised by Simon. The Jumbo-Visma settled down in Copenhagen with a single goal, to sit on the top step of the Champs-Elysées podium with the yellow jersey back to the Arc de Triomphe. Well before the start of this 109th edition, Wout Van Aert nevertheless warned his world, announcing in the Flemish columns his intention to compete in priority for the green jersey, without disguising his commitment to the general classification operation. It is clear that the cohabitation of these two hares did not really benefit the two-headed leader of the Yellow and Black.

I’m not going to go back over all the missed opportunities to grab a few grains of time from Pogacar, but rather plan ahead. Because I can only look to the future with optimism. On the evening of this eighth stage, WVA has enlarged its imposing wardrobe with a second success and emerges more than a hundred units from Fabio Jakobsen, its runner-up in the fight for the green tunic. The Belgian showed himself on all fronts, but on a ground that suited him. I can’t wait to observe the behavior of the winner of Milan-Sanremo (2020) in the Alps, starting tomorrow. It will be “all in” for its leaders, or should I say its leader, since the race itself has operated its own natural selection.

Praised by the Danish people, Jonas Vingegaard is indeed the only hornet capable of instilling a few wisps of doubt in the skull of Pogacar. Above all, the scattering of the Dutch forces did not cost that much: 39 small seconds. I want to believe that Roglic and Van Aert will combine their forces around last year’s dolphin. It’s not too late: the high mountain is barely showing the end of its attic sides.

Vingegaard: “It was brutal but I feel good, the legs are good”

When is the first French stage victory?

Simon Farvacque

It may be for this Sunday. The bet is bold, given that the best French climbers are still either placed in the general classification (David Gaudu, Romain Bardet, Guillaume Martin), or not in the form of their lives (Thibaut Pinot, in particular). Good luck, to beat the pawn to Pogacar and company, or, as it is, to anticipate this battle of the leaders. Add to that a competition in terms of “adventurers who are not afraid of the drop” always very high on the Tour – Lennard Kämna in figurehead – and you get a questioning pout.

But Warren Barguil, Pierre Latour or other Tony Gallopin have the profile to shine during the 9th stage. They can, depending on their opponents in the breakaway, win the jackpot. It is therefore not a prognosis dictated by a deep conviction that I am making here. I especially have the feeling that it is time for a group of 15-20 adventurers to say goodbye to the peloton until the finish line. The fugitives were right only once, after eight days of games, during this Grande Boucle. I think it will be the case a second time, in Châtel, and that the tricolor can take advantage of it to slip onto the top step of the podium.

The profile of the 9th stage: The Alps gently

Amaury Erdogan-Gutierrez

I’ll play devil’s advocate, because I don’t see a Frenchman strong enough to win in the short term. The Barguil, Latour, & co have for them a more or less glorious past on the July routes, but the competition is fierce in the breakaways and I do not detect in our adventurers-climbers a transcendent state of form, essential to win the win . In my view, salvation will come from the top names experienced in the fight for the general classification. I’ll even tell you a secret, they are the type to dream big. If I whisper the name of Alpe d’Huez in your ear, the date of July 14 comes to mind. The appropriate spatio-temporal setting for plume-fed couriers.

Yes, I am necessarily thinking of Thibaut Pinot. The Franc-Comtois knows the place (winner in 2015) and will be able to transcend himself in the heart of the telluric laces. You will retort that the current shape of the Vosges does not invite the fiercest optimism. It must be recognized that the road, stamped with hundreds of inscriptions in his honor, was not enough to bring the climber from Lure into the top 30 at the top of the Super Planche des Belles Filles.

There is nevertheless time before this 12th stage and I did not say that I placed all my pawns on the same horse. Alpe d’Huez will sign the fourth and last act of an alpine stopover which should redistribute a pack of cards. It is therefore not excluded to find a Guillaume Martin or a Romain Bardet pushed back several minutes from the podium. If the macadam philosopher is not strictly speaking a “serial winner” (only seven pro victories, none in the World Tour), the Auvergnat has already tasted the joys of victory on the Tour. Above all, the winner of the last Tour of the Alps has found the right rods this season.

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