Pogacar the man to beat as he chases third Tour de France title in a row

PARIS: Tadej Pogacar will be the gentleman to defeat as he targets his 3rd consecutive Tour de France title when the race sets off on Friday (Jul 1), with the 23-yr-old Slovenian on the lookout to turn out to be 1 of the sport’s all-time good riders.

Dubbed the “Little one Cannibal” for his similarities to 5-time winner Eddy “The Cannibal” Merckx, Pogacar has currently received the UAE Tour, the Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of Slovenia stage races this season as very well as the Strade Bianche just one-day basic.

Only the Jumbo-Visma crew armada appear to be ready to dent Pogacar’s armour. The Dutch outfit has two leaders – Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic and past year’s runner-up Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark – in a crew that also offers the formidable Wout van Aert.

They will be striving to manage the race and isolate Pogacar, who has now proven that he fears no a person on any terrain. He will need to have to display that fearlessness once again in the 1st handful of times when the winds in Denmark and the cobbles of northern France may well prove treacherous.

He could even gain time on his key rivals on these stages just before the race reaches the mountains, where he proved almost unbeatable final yr.

“It will be unquestionably be an exciting struggle between him and the Jumbo Visma group,” Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme advised Reuters.

The Tour returns to La Planche des Belles Filles, wherever Pogacar snatched the overall direct from Roglic in extraordinary trend in a time trial on the penultimate day of the 2020 race, when the punishing Col du Granon and L’Alpe d’Huez and its well known 21 hairpins also await.

The two time trials, the inaugural 13.2km work in Copenhagen and the last 40.7km check in Rocamadour just before the final day’s procession to Paris, are not expected to unsettle Pogacar possibly.

INEOS Grenadiers, who gained 7 out of eight Tour titles from 2012 in advance of Pogacar seized energy, will have possibilities with Adam Yates, Dani Martinez and Geraint Thomas in the group, but none of them independently are a match for the formidable Slovenian all-rounder.

France, in the meantime, is nonetheless waiting for its initial Tour de France winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985, and there is little indicator that he will have a successor this 12 months.

Thibaut Pinot, who arrived agonisingly close in 2019 ahead of retiring wounded in the closing 7 days, is again to a good stage of performance, but he is not predicted to be a really serious contender.

The Groupama-FDJ rider will go for phase wins and possibly the polka-dot jersey for the mountains classification in a most likely duel with fellow Frenchman Romain Bardet, a shock participant immediately after he withdrew sick from the Giro d’Italia.

Globe winner Julian Alaphilippe was not picked by his Swift Step Alpha Vinyl workforce as he has only just returned to racing pursuing a freak crash in April.

Also absent from the Belgian team’s roster is Mark Cavendish, which means the British rider will skip out on a chance to conquer Merckx’s file of 34 Tour phase wins, owning matched that report at last year’s race.

The race will commence beneath one more cloud of doping suspicions soon after police searched the homes of riders and personnel of Group Bahrain Victorious on Monday.

French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into doping allegations from Bahrain Victorious following law enforcement searched the team’s lodge late in final year’s race, when they won a few stages.

At the time, the prosecutor’s place of work in Marseille mentioned that the investigation was into “acquisition, transport, possession, import of a prohibited substance or prohibited system for use by an athlete with no medical justification”.