• Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) attacks on Stage 8 of 2020 Tour de France (Getty)Source: Getty
Australian UAE Team Emirates sports director Allan Peiper talked about the Tour de France bid to date of Tadej Pogačar, with the young climbing star finding himself losing teammates in dramatic fashion in the past few stages.
SBS Cycling Central

10 Sep 2020 - 8:50 AM 

Fabio Aru was the first man down for UAE Team Emirates, abandoning early on Stage 9. A member of the team staff attacked him in Italian media, Giuseppe Sarroni viciously attacking Aru's mental health in a stigmatising assault that has little place in modern discussions around mental conditions.

Davide Formolo was the next to be lost to Pogačar's support team, with the Italian climber during a tricky Stage 10 which saw a number of nasty crashes. Formolo was one of the unlucky ones, falling and breaking his collarbone. He managed to finish the stage, but his fate was confirmed after the race and he did not start the eleventh stage.

"Losing Formolo yesterday was really a big blow because he's such a strong kid," said Peiper, "good for the group, good for the vibe in the team. Two men down and both mountain men so we're just left with a couple of helpers.

"David De La Cruz who had a cracked coccyx in the first week and is still recovering and Jan Polanc so it's getting a bit thin up there."

Carnage on narrow coastal roads as riders crash out of Tour
Crashes marred the Tour de France's return to racing after the first rest day on stage 10 to Île de Ré, with narrow roads and road furniture both contributing to the carnage.
Fabio Aru savaged by team as he withdraws from Tour de France
Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) withdrew from the Tour de France after dropping out of the peloton early on Stage 9 and failing to finish the 153-kilometre stage from Pau to Laurens.

The remaining members of the team are sprinter Alexander Kristoff, experienced campaigner Marc Marcato and Vegard Staede Laengen, who whilst a handy climber, isn't recognised as being at the same level as climbers present at the Tour.

David McKenzie asked the question of how Aru was faring after his abrupt exit from the Tour, how he was physically as well as how he was doing mentally.

"I think both of those things are under the microscope Dave," said Peiper. "He wasn't good Saturday."

"I think more to the point it had been made clear to him there was only one objective and that was Tadej maybe that played mentally on him as well that he was going to have to step into that lieutenant role.

"Speaking of Tadej. He's such an exciting prospect isn't he to watch? Normally we would say a 20-year-old still, they'll get tired in the third week but I made that mistake in the Vuelta last year. You guys must be so excited about this next 10 days. Is the sky the limit for Tadej?"

Slovenian pair dominate stage as Pogačar takes the win with Roglič in yellow
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won Stage 9, after splitting up the race on the final climb of the Col de Marie Blanque then sprinting to the win from the elite group that formed. Roglič finished just behind his countryman in second, enough to take the yellow jersey.
Pogačar delights with Pyrenean assault
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) was the best of the general classification candidates during Stage 8 of the Tour de France, attacking twice to rid himself of his rivals for the yellow jersey and taking 40 seconds.

The rise of Pogačar is part of a growing generation of youngsters that are excelling within the sport, with Pogačar announced by UAE Team Emirates as entering the Tour as a co-leader with Aru, though clearly that was just as a smokescreen for the team's true Pogačar ambitions. The young Slovenian attacked on Stage 8 and took 40 seconds on his main rivals for the yellow jersey and then went on to win Stage 9 from his countryman and current leader of the Tour, Primož Roglič.

"Well it's all about confirmation but I think he's confirmed already last weekend and the level that he's at," said Peiper of Pogačar. "I would've preferred that he kept it under wraps a bit longer. But he did have some time to make up so all in all it's a good place to be in.

"We won a stage, he's moved up on GC again. But everyone is aware of how good he is."

Peiper looked ahead to the key mountain stages that will shape the general classification battle at the race.

"The last week is going to be very defining," said Peiper. "From Friday onwards the Puy Mary and the Grand Colombier, they're also going to be quite decisive. So it's a bit of a worry he's going to be alone."

UAE Team Emirates will presumably try to rely on Jan Polanc as their domestique for the mountains, with the two-time Giro d'Italia stage winner the best rider in the mountains remaining on the squad. 

"We really have to manage our energy as good as we can," said Peiper. "In a way, they know he doesn't have a team and if they don't step in and recitfy a situation in the race they might also lose out. That could work our way in the long run tactically."

Peiper's task will be cut out for him as he attempts to navigate his young charge to a maiden Grand Tour win with a weakened team.

The Tour de France continues tonight with Stage 12, the longest of this year’s race, a 218-kilometre course similar to an Ardennes classic from Chauvigny to Sarran. Watch the race on the SBS ŠKODA Tour Tracker from 7.40pm AEST, with television coverage starting from 9.30 AEST on SBS HD.