Thursday June 24th 2021
He does it like the euro stars
Roglic’s fight against tour trauma
On the 2020 tour, Primoz Roglic looked like the sure winner. But on the penultimate day he lost everything in the mountain time trial. He has overcome the defeat and is now attacking again. Favorite and last year’s winner Tadej Pogacar is in great shape and then there is the Ineos All-Star-Team.
In preparation for the tour, Primoz Roglic had taken a very close look at the footballers and their EURO. At the press conference before the Tour of France kick-off in Brest, the co-favorite arrived a little late with a can of Dutch 0.05 beer in his luggage, pushed it back and forth in the best Ronaldo style – and cracked the can with the room-warm brew finally grinning.
The sponsor should have been pleased, but the sporting issue remains much more important: Can Roglic crack his buddy, rival and compatriot Tadej Pogacar in the duel for the yellow jersey this time? “Let’s see. I’ve prepared as well as possible,” said the second runner from last year, keeping a low profile as he did in the training session of the past few weeks. The bitter defeat nine months ago gnawed at Roglic, although he assured that there was “nothing left”. But that memorable mountain time trial on the Planche des Belles Filles on the penultimate tour day 2020, when the high favorite started with 57 seconds ahead of Pogacar in yellow and 59 seconds behind the second-youngest tour winner in history, like a beaten dog. still hurts today.
“We learned from last year,” said Grischa Niermann, German sports director in Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma team: “We were very dominant in the race at the time and didn’t win. We’ll certainly do something different tactically.” At least Roglic did a lot differently. The Vuelta winner has not contested a race since the end of April and instead mainly trained at altitude. Pogacar, on the other hand, drove the Tour of Slovenia two weeks before the tour, won the overall and mountain classification.
Pogacar self-confident, Ineos wants to attack
While there are question marks behind the challenger Roglic’s form (“I feel good, but you won’t see it until the race”), that of the champion seems to be outstanding. “I have full confidence in myself and my team,” said the 22-year-old Pogacar in a dry message from his UAE team, which otherwise kept his boy wonder largely under wraps in the media. Team Ineos Grenadiers wants to make at least a three-way battle out of the Slovenian duel. The former Sky team, the undisputed industry leader with seven Tour victories between 2012 and 2019, is planning to return to the throne and therefore offers a team of insane strength. The captain’s role is intended for Geraint Thomas, the 35-year-old champion from 2018, but it could also after the disgusting first tour week with the last formidable Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Giro winner 2019) or the British Tao Geoghegan Hart (Giro winner 2020) lie.
“You don’t just have to be good at climbing to win this tour. The time trials will be crucial this time,” says Thomas, who for this very reason sees his chance to become the oldest tour winner since the Belgian Firmin Lambot 99 years ago. But all speculations and planning can quickly become obsolete in the sometimes incalculable three-week adventure. Tony Martin knows that too, who after the unhappy end of the previous year is supposed to lead Roglic to victory as Jumbos Road Captain this time. “It was an exclamation point last year that you just can’t be too sure about something until the last day,” said Martin: “That was a great lesson for us.”