Even if Tadej Pogacar seems untouchable, several profiles stand out before the big crossing of the Alps to destabilize the leader. Staff review with their strengths and weaknesses.
Special correspondents in Morzine
The Vinegaard-Roglic duo *****
The good news for the Dutch team is that Primoz Roglic, who fell heavily in the cobblestone stage (the Slovenian, regularly cursed on the Tour, had been picked up with a dislocated shoulder) was able to get back on his feet, regain his strength and sensations. He remains in ambush in the general classification (11th at 2’52”) and could, in the sequence of mountain stages, pose as an additional possibility of harassing Tadej Pogacar who could suffer from the heat wave. The Jumbo-Visma team was, at the start of Copenhagen, presented as the most solid and the most experienced, the most able to destabilize the one on whom everything slips, the difficulties, the adversity, the pressure: Tadej Pogacar. “ We are not going to attack without thinking but we are not going to stay until Paris without doing anything either. “, promises Merijn Zeeman, one of the managers of the Jumbo-Visma team. In the meantime, after 9 stages, the balance of power remains the same. Jumbo-Visma has solid assets but has already spent a lot (especially with Wout Van Aert) and Pogacar escapes all traps. With the insolence of those who doubt nothing.
The Ineos trio ***
The British formation (which has won 7 of the last 10 Tours) has suffered since 2020 in the wake of Tadej Pogacar. Ineos, after 9 stage, saw the Colombian Martinez suddenly disappear (30th at 17’12” from the yellow jersey). But the team has three riders in the top 7 of the general classification (Geraint Thomas 3rd at 1’17 from the yellow jersey; Adam Yates 4th at 1’25”; Thomas Pidcock 7th at 1’46”). What to be able to play. “ I am aiming for the final victory and I will give everything, even if I know that I am already behind Pogacar, especially given the way he runs. But anything can happen in the Grands Tours, especially at the moment, with this damn Covid which forces us to be extremely vigilant “, summed up at theAFP Geraint Thomas. Will the assets of Ineos be able to join forces, take turns to try to falter Pogacar and overthrow the Tour or will they be content to follow and limit damage to ensure good places in the general? For the time being, they have contented themselves with the role of observers anxious to take the blows.
Vlasov, the enigma **
Alexander Vlasovleader of the Bora-Hansgrohe team, discovers the Tour de France. In Copenhagen, he landed on the starting line with a flattering reputation born of his success in the Tour de Romandie and a Tour de Suisse of which he was the leader before having to leave it hastily following a a positive Covid test. Fallen and hit in the lower back, the Russian (12th at 3’12”) grits his teeth. He could – if his physique leaves him in peace – be among those who will rise on their pedals to try to reverse the course of things and derail Pogacar’s plan to head in coach towards a third consecutive success on the Tour. .
Bardet and Gaudu must choose **
5th at 1’38” from the yellow jersey, david gaudu remains ideally placed for a podium, an objective announced before the big start. The leader of Groupama-FDJ continues to progress in the mountains and asserts himself as one of the best climbers in the world, but he is not immune to failure like last year in Ventoux. “The Télégraphe-Galibier passage is perhaps the climb I’ve done most often in my life and Alpe (d’Huez) is legendary. I know these two stages by heart, I have often been on internship in the area“Said Monday the leader of the team who knows that the Rocamadour time trial will not necessarily be favorable to him the day before the arrival in Paris. Just behind overall (6th at 1’39), Romain Bardet masked advance. “I keep all the doors open“Said the DSM runner who hides his game extremely well. It is difficult to decipher his remarks made on Monday during the rest day. At a crossroads, however, he must make a decision, either to play the overall or to take a shot, which he was considering before the start of the 2022 edition. His fall on Saturday and persistent discomfort could urge caution in the Alps. But if he displays the same level of performance as in the last Giro, he can create a surprise.
Nairo Quintana wants his step**
Nairobi Quintana chomping at the bit. Finally the Alps, his best playground. He is always capable of lightning, at least for a day. He will aim for a stage victory. The heat to which he is accustomed may be an asset. “ We are with the best. I am in good shape“Said the Arkea Samsic climber who will inevitably attack at one time or another, knowing that he will lose a lot of time in the Rocamadour time trial. It remains to know where? In the Alps or in the Pyrenees?
Thibaut Pinot, the unpredictable*
On Sunday, Thibaut Pinot demonstrated that he had the legs to go looking for a mountain stage, but he will have to be a shrewder strategist. The Groupama climber set off too late to attack Jungels. “It gives me ideas for the future.“, confided the Franc-Comtois often there when we do not expect him. His manager, Marc Madiot, gave him a good exit in the 9th stage but his role is above all to be at the service of Gaudu who will undoubtedly need him on Wednesday and Thursday. On Tuesday, however, he could be free to engage in a breakaway. He has the advantage of not representing a threat in the general classification for the favourites.
And also *
The Spaniard Enric Mas (Movistar; 8th at 1’50”) is the asset of a formation which has struggled in recent years to establish a clear hierarchy crushed by the personality of Alejandro Valverde. Mas (2nd in the Vuelta 2018 and 2021) may surprise. Warren Barguil too (We will have to take risks, there will not be 50 chances, for Warren, I have great ambitions for a stage victory”, assures Yvon Ledanois, the sports director of the Arkéa-Samsic team. ).
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