Cycling: Slovenians against the rest of the world at the Tour de France

Cycling: Slovenians against the rest of the world at the Tour de France

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Slovenian duettists should lead the dance in the Tour de France, which begins this Friday. Pogacar and Roglic took an option on the first two places on the podium.

Tadej Pogacar (right) during the presentation of his team on Wednesday in Copenhagen.

AFP

“Apart from two or three Slovenians, the rest is playable,” said Marc Madiot, the manager of Groupama-FDJ, on the eve of the Tour de France. Are we going to witness Tadej Pogacar’s hat-trick? Will Primoz Roglic have overcome the inferiority complex that feeds his prodigious compatriot? Can we expect Aleksandr Vlasov, winner of the Tour de Romandie, to create a surprise?

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates)

Tadej Pogacar.
AFP

He is criticized for his smile, which would be like a mark of contempt for adversity: “I can’t help it, I smile in the effort”, he pleaded last year, at the end of his second Tour de France. France won three times (yellow jersey, polka dot jersey, best young player jersey). He took care of his form and his morale by winning the Tour of Slovenia, with two stages in his bag, when Geraint Thomas was preparing for the Tour of Switzerland and Primoz Roglic on Le Dauphiné Libéré. He completed his approach to the Tour with a training course at altitude, in Livigno. Fourth in the Tour of Flanders behind Mathieu van der Poel, winner this year of the Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Emirates, Tadej Pogacar (23 years old, 1.76m, 66kg) splashes the whole peloton with his class, of which he is number 1, as evidenced by the UCI ranking. His team, UAE Emirates, is less impressive than the Jumbo-Visma or the Ineos, but Pogacar has twice proven that he doesn’t need anyone to win the biggest stage race in the world.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)

Primoz Roglic.
AFP

His track record should immunize him against any failure: triple winner of the Vuelta, double winner of the Tour of the Basque Country and the Tour of Romandie, Olympic time trial champion, outgoing winner of Paris-Nice and the Critérium du Dauphiné… Primoz Roglic (32 years old, 1.77 m, 65 kg) seems armed to challenge Tadej Pogacar and his youthful effrontery. The recent past contradicts the winners: in 2020, during the penultimate stage, favorite of the time trial of the Planche des Belles Filles, he lost 1’56 ” in 36.2 km on Pogacar and had to settle for second place. In 2021, victim of a fall, he retired on the evening of the eighth stage, in the deluge of Grand-Bornand. This season, knee problems have hampered his approach to the Tour. Within his own team, the Jumbo-Visma armada, he must assert his authority in the face of the budding ambition of Jonas Vingegaard, surprising runner-up to Pogacar in 2021.

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma)

Jonas Vingaard.
AFP

Devoted to his leader, Primoz Roglic, Jonas Vingegaard recalls Christopher Froome in the time of Bradley Wiggins: respect for the hierarchy forbids him any affront. Thus, in the final stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Vingegaard seemed superior to Roglic, which the general classification denies (1st Roglic, 2nd Vingegaard): “I have always remained in the shadow of Primoz and I have always preferred that,” he said. The 25-year-old Dane had surprised the peloton by finishing second in the Tour de France 2021, replacing Roglic, forced to retire. He owed his presence only to Tom Dumoulin’s withdrawal. He had struck the spirits from the 5th stage, finishing 3rd in the Laval time trial, 27 seconds from Roglic and only 8 seconds from specialist Stefan Küng. This year, he will not be able to count on the element of surprise, he who had dropped Pogacar on the last slopes of Ventoux.

Geraint Thomas (Ineos)

Geraint Thomas.
AFP

At 36, of course, Geraint Thomas (1.83 m, 71 kg) can no longer claim the jersey of best young person and in the organization chart of Ineos, he only appears in second position, behind Daniel Martinez. Winner of the Tour de France in 2018, when he beat – excuse me! – Tom Dumoulin and Chris Froome, Thomas remains on a Tour de Suisse victory and his former team-mate Bradley Wiggins says the peloton would be wrong to underestimate the Welshman: “He is very underrated. You weren’t expecting much from him this season and suddenly he appears two weeks from the Tour. It’s incredible.” And Bradley Wiggins adds, “I’ve always been his biggest fan!” Every year, he slams a World Tour race: the Tour de Romandie in 2021, the Tour de Suisse this year.

Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora Hangsrohe)

Alexander Vlasov.
AFP

He was at the head of the Tour de Suisse, he preceded Jakob Fuglsang and Geraint Thomas by a few seconds on the evening of the 5th stage, when the Covid mowed down his dreams of victory. The virus was the only grain of sand in a season focused on the Tour de France: 4th in the Tour of the Emirates, 3rd in the Tour of the Basque Country and 1st in the Tour de Romandie, his first World Tour success. Aleksandr Vlasov (1.86 m, 68 kg) is discovering the Tour de France and the question is how he will have recovered from the Covid. He found a new dimension passing from Astana to Bora-hangsrohe: already in February he won the Tour de Valence, beating Remco Evenepoel and Carlos Rodriguez after five stages. Cycling analysts rank Vlasov among excellent climbers and honest riders.

“Geraint Thomas emerges two weeks from the Tour. It’s incredible.”

Bradley Wiggins, winner of the 2012 Tour de France
The Tour de France 2022 map.

The Tour de France 2022 map.

AFP


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