This, it appears, is the age of Pogacar. Since that day, 21 months in the past, when he wrestled yellow away from his fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic on the penultimate day of the 2020 Tour, he has carried the air of the unbeatable.
Laid-back, affable, but indefatigable, Pogacar has gained seven of the eight stage races he has entered since, solely settling for a podium end in final 12 months’s Tour of the Basque Nation, and made securing his second consecutive Tour title 12 months in the past seem like a breeze.
Tadej Pogacar will begin the Tour de France because the overwhelming favorite to put on yellow in Paris as soon as once more.
He has additionally confirmed his one-day credentials with victories in Il Lombardia and Strade-Bianche, and top-five finishes on the Olympics, Milan-Sanremo and the Tour of Flanders.
Now he returns to France – through the Grand Depart in Copenhagen – seeking to be part of the elite membership of riders with three or extra Tour crowns. Solely eight males have carried out it earlier than. Pogacar, aged simply 23, goals to make it 9.
Becoming a member of firm which incorporates five-time winners Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Miguel Indurain, plus Philippe Thys, Louison Bobet, Greg LeMond and Chris Froome, would put Pogacar in rarefied air.
But it might nonetheless really feel like just the start for a rider who stays eligible for the younger riders’ classification for one more two years.
Such has been Pogacar’s dominance, it’s simple to overlook how new all that is, how small the pattern measurement.
The sensation was that Roglic misplaced, as a lot as Pogacar gained, the 2020 Tour. Roglic bossed the race for 11 days, just for it to collapse on that determined time trial on La Planche des Belles Filles.
Since then Pogacar has appeared on a special degree, however Roglic has twice gained the Vuelta a Espana, and we have now solely seen the 2 go face to face in stage races twice – Roglic beat Pogacar within the Basque Nation final 12 months whereas his Tour de France bid was curtailed by an early crash.
So how a lot does separate the 2 Slovenians? Can Roglic, 32, regain the higher hand on a rider he appeared to behave like the massive brother to in 2020 earlier than being upstaged on the final?
And is he the one rider within the pack able to difficult Pogacar? For years the Ineos Grenadiers, first as Crew Sky then Crew Ineos, bossed this race, successful seven out of eight editions between 2012 and 2019, however they’ve had no reply for the reason that Slovenians took over.
They head into this race with three named leaders – generally a bonus, generally a reason behind confusion.
Dani Martinez, super-domestique to Egan Bernal in final 12 months’s Giro d’Italia, shall be afforded his probability, although a Tour with loads of time trial kilometres and the cobbles of northern France ought to swimsuit Geraint Thomas.
The 2018 winner is now 36 however confirmed his type with victory within the Tour de Suisse and shall be decided to have one other crack at yellow, whereas Adam Yates continues to be searching for a Grand Tour consequence to match the potential the 29-year-old confirmed as a teen.