Tour de France: Pogacar surprised about yellow jersey: “Feels good”

Tour de France: Pogacar surprised about yellow jersey: “Feels good”
Tour de France: Pogacar surprised about yellow jersey: “Feels good”

The climb to San Luca is the first test of strength between the stars – without a winner. The yellow jersey still goes to Tadej Pogacar.

Tadej Pogacar himself was surprised by his first yellow jersey at the Tour de France in almost two years.

After the climbing show on the steep ramp to the pilgrimage church of San Luca, the Slovenian cycling star looked questioningly at his rivals until the complicated regulations of the tour finally brought clarity. The first breathtaking exchange of blows between Pogacar and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard remained without a winner on Italian terrain, but gives hope for a great battle in the 111th Tour de France.

“I’m happy to be back in yellow. It feels good, even if I don’t have a lead yet. It’s confirmation that I’m in shape,” said Pogacar, who finally crossed the finish line on the next sweaty stage in temperatures of over 30 degrees after 199.2 kilometers with the group of favorites and 2:21 minutes behind the French breakaway winner Kevin Vauquelin. Before that, Pogacar had stormed up the last climb like he was unleashed, but his big rival Vingegaard couldn’t be shaken off. On the descent, fellow favorite Remco Evenepoel also caught up, so that the three top stars are currently all on the same time.

Complicated tour regulations

But why is Pogacar now wearing yellow? When riders are on the same time, the better placing is decisive. Pogacar benefits from his fourth place on Saturday, while Evenepoel finished eighth at the start. Everything could change again on the sprint stage on Monday. Pogacar took the overall lead from the French winner Romain Bardet, who lost 21 seconds.

But Pogacar and Vingegaard are in a league of their own, as was shown in the first duel. Both stars have thus brushed aside any doubts about their fitness. Pogacar’s corona illness a good two weeks ago apparently had no effect, and Vingegaard, who has not raced since his serious fall in the Basque Country at the beginning of April, seems to have got back into shape in time.

Accordingly, the Dane, who is currently third overall, viewed the outcome of the stage as a victory for himself: “Today I actually expected to lose time. Today is a small victory for me. I am happy that I crossed the finish line at the same time as him. It is nice to be able to say that I am back.”

Pogacar in attack mode

It was the first small spectacle of the 111th Tour. On the 1.9-kilometer-long climb with an average gradient of 10.6 percent, which had to be crossed twice, Pogacar went into attack mode. Primoz Roglic from the German Red Bull team could no longer keep up, although the Slovenian actually had good memories of the climb to the Madonna’s sanctuary with its impressive 666 colonnades. In 2019, Roglic won the opening time trial of the Giro here. Roglic is now 21 seconds behind.

Already on Saturday, Pogacar, who could be the first professional cyclist since Marco Pantani in 1998 to complete the Giro d’Italia and Tour double, “tested his legs a bit” on the ups and downs to Rimini, but missed the first bonus seconds when he finished fourth. The stage was not difficult enough to cause chaos, was Pogacar’s verdict. The suffering veteran Mark Cavendish could hardly agree. With a 39-minute deficit, the former world champion had just managed to stay within the grace period after he had vomited in the meantime. On Sunday, he again crossed the finish line with a significant deficit.

Degenkolb preparing for the tour in the sauna

The drivers were once again struggling with the heat. As on the previous day, the thermometer showed temperatures of well over 30 degrees in some places. “I’m glad that I did a lot of heat acclimation in the sauna. It was very unpleasant, but it seems to have helped. I didn’t feel too bad,” said classic specialist John Degenkolb, who was able to celebrate the double success of his two teammates Bardet and Frank van den Broek.

Otherwise, the German cycling professionals – almost as expected – hardly made an appearance on the difficult opening weekend. More than a stage win is unlikely to be possible for the eight starters. On Monday, on the supposed first sprint stage over 230.8 kilometers from Piacenza to Turin, it will be shown whether Phil Bauhaus and Pascal Ackermann can do anything in mass finishes against top-class competition such as sprint king Jasper Philipsen.

Source: Stern

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