Tour de France - 11th stage - How to shake Tadej Pogacar?  "That's the million-euro question"

Tour de France – 11th stage – How to shake Tadej Pogacar? “That’s the million-euro question”


Since the Tadej Pogacar era began on Saturday September 19, 2020 on the side of the Planche des Belles Filles, the opposition has faced an equation so far insoluble: where, when and how to overthrow the young Slovenian, so firmly installed in the role of the boss of the Tour? Halfway through the 2022 edition, but certainly not halfway through the main difficulties, here is Pogacar once again in control of the general classification, admittedly with a margin still thin on the competition, but all the same. Again, it’s “all behind and him in front“.

In the next two days, this Tour will change in dimension and, perhaps, in face. Five of the seven passes of the 2022 hors category route will have to be climbed between Wednesday and Thursday, with a double dose of Galibier, the Croix-de-Fer and two monumental summit finishes, first of the revenant Granon and of the prestigious Alpe d’ Boo. Anyway, let’s find out. If Pogacar is still unbreakable. If Vingegaard, or someone else, manages to put him in trouble. And above all, how?

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Monday, during the rest day in Morzine, David Gaudu had to face this question for the time being unanswered. “How to derail Pogacar? That’s the million dollar question.“, smiled the Breton, for the time being 6th in the general classification, well wedged in the peloton of outsiders.Even lonely on the cobblestones, he is very strong, we have seen itsaid the leader of Groupama-FDJ. Afterwards, he may have a personal failure. Even the strongest in the world is not immune to a day without. But it’s true, many teams rack their brains to find out how to knock him off his throne, and I admit that I don’t necessarily have the answer.”

Unlikely coalition?

Some are already wondering if the Covid-19, or even the heat wave, are not the main adversaries of ‘Pogi’. On the road, who, on the pedal, has the means to tickle him? Vingegaard, maybe. And that’s probably all. To destabilize it, it will therefore be necessary to be inventive and daring. And it may be more of a collective affair than anything else. “I see two, three teams that can change the classification but they have to be smartjudged Andy Schleck on Tuesday in an interview with AFP. Yes, you have to be ready for alliances, that the Jumbos do not run behind the Ineos and vice versa.”

In recent years, whether against Sky or, now, against Pogacar, we have indeed too often seen teams running behind each other, to consolidate a place on the podium, or even a Top 5 or a Top 10. In fact, rather than adversaries, they became for the boss of the Tour allies of circumstances changing face every day. Any profit for a Pogacar today. But is a coalition really credible? Not sure.

The profile of the Col du Granon: 11.3 km at 9.2% and a continuous hell at very high altitude

One thing is certain, if Pogacar is as strong as last year, the salvation of the competition will come from taking maximum risks. Attacking from afar, for example. Two teams have in theory the interest and the means to proceed in this way: Jumbo-Visma and INEOS Grenadiers. The Dutch formation has in Vingegaard the main threat against Pogacar and has in Primoz Roglic a possible launching pad.

The three-time winner of the Vuelta is certainly already sailing at almost three minutes, but if he launched a major offensive, as our consultant Alberto Contador suggests, he would force the yellow jersey to react. He’s too dangerous to let go. This could be a way to isolate his compatriot and weaken him before the climb of the Granon on Wednesday or that of the Alpe the next day.

Especially since with Wout van Aert, Jumbo also has a sort of joker up its sleeve. Provided you use it wisely, according to Andy Schleck: “For me, the Jumbo holds the key with Wout van Aert. He’s the strongest of the bunch. He can change the rankings. But you have to use him intelligently as a teammate. There, he goes every day in the breakaways, I hope he will calm down a bit. Roglic won Paris-Nice thanks to him.”

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At some point, if we want to win, we will have to take risks

At INEOS, it’s even a three-headed eagle that comes forward. They were even four before Daniel Martinez sank during the last two stages. However, with Geraint Thomas (4th overall, and 3rd of the contenders if we leave Lennard Kämna aside), Adam Yates just behind the Welshman and Tom Pidcock in the Top 10, the British grenades may have enough to unpin Pogacar. Or try, at the very least. Is this a guarantee of success? No. But a prerequisite, no doubt.

Look in this Tour, what will happen if they continue like this?, asks Andy Schleck again. Tadej will win. It takes guts, courage. Maybe they will lose the Tour, but you have to try. Geraint Thomas, for example, is third overall. But third overall, what does it mean for him? He has already won the Tour. Runners expect too much. They think about the next day and at some point, we see the Eiffel Tower, we are in Paris, and it’s over.”

At some point, if we want to win, we will have to take risks and we are in this state of mind.Steve Cummings, one of INEOS Grenadiers’ sporting directors, swore on Tuesday, before adding: “The plan remains the same as usual: use our collective strength intelligently“A colossal individual performance or a perfect team race. Those are the two options. It may even be necessary to combine the two elements to solve the Pogacar equation and this famous million-euro question.

Tadej Pogacar finishes the 10th stage of the Tour de France 2022 in the sprint

Credit: Getty Images

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