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Cycling: Race for the Tour spectacle

Cycling: Race for the Tour spectacle

Tadej Pogacar is relaxing, Jonas Vingegaard is training, Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic are riding the Dauphiné. One month before the Tour, it is unclear whether there will be a showdown between the “Big Four”.

Jonas Vingegaard was actually supposed to be waving happily to the crowd on Sunday in a French village somewhere in the middle of nowhere north of the Auvergne. To be more precise, in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule, the 5,000-person community where the Critérium du Dauphiné starts. Vingegaard is the defending champion in the classic dress rehearsal for the Tour de France, which begins a month later.

But instead of getting a taste of the cycling highlight of the year, the four chosen protagonists are forced to go their separate ways. The trigger for this is the brutal crash at the Tour of the Basque Country on April 4, in which Remco Evenepoel and Primoz Roglic were involved alongside Vingegaard. The latter are competing in the Dauphiné, while Vingegaard is not quite ready yet. He is training in Mallorca and in the Alps. And Tadej Pogacar is putting his feet up in his adopted home of Monaco after his triumph at the Giro d’Italia.

Uncertain tour participation of Vingegaard

The biggest question mark is actually behind Vingegaard. It is still completely unclear whether the Dane will even be taking part in the Tour. “Of course everyone wants to know, including us,” said Mathieu Heijboer, head coach of Visma-Lease a bike. The team wants to win the Tour de France with Vingegaard, as they did in the two previous years. At least the 27-year-old is well enough to start a high-altitude training camp in Tignes. “It’s slowly starting to look like normal training,” said his personal trainer Tim Heemskerk.

Others are further along, even if not yet at the desired level. “I still have some work to do. I’m not interested in the overall ranking in the Dauphiné,” said Evenepoel. The Belgian broke his shoulder blade and collarbone in the Basque Country. Before his first participation in the Tour, the prodigy needs to get into the racing rhythm.

Roglic as favorite at the Dauphiné

Roglic is likely to be the favourite for the eight-day Dauphiné. The Slovenian, the great hope of his new employer Bora-hansgrohe, escaped without any broken bones and was able to return to training fairly quickly. “Not only does he feel good, but the objective numbers for his training also look very good,” said his sports director Rolf Aldag. “Now Primoz has to come to terms with the fact that he will be seeing more of me than his wife in the next two months.”

You don’t necessarily have to have the Dauphiné kilometers under your belt to win the Tour. But it helps, as the example of Vingegaard shows. Miguel Indurain, Christopher Froome and Bradley Wiggins also won the race, which was mostly held in the Alps, before going on to triumph in the Tour.

Pogacar focuses on recovery and training

Pogacar, who is aiming for the Giro and Tour double this year, something that no one has achieved since 1998, is skipping the race in France for understandable reasons. Until Sunday, he is simply enjoying life in Monaco with his fiancée Urska Zigart. After that, he will be heading to a 19-day high-altitude training camp in the Alps.

Considering Vingegaard’s fitness level and Evenepoel’s inexperience, Roglic is currently Pogacar’s only serious challenger in the Tour. The former ski jumper went into the last time trial in 2020 as the clear leader – and had the Tour victory snatched from him by Pogacar. Perhaps this year there will be a big revenge. In any case, the last Tour stage from Monaco to Nice is: a time trial.

Source: Stern

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