How 'payback' spurred Pogačar in massive attack for yellow lead

Tadej Pogačar revealed “payback” may have played a part in his decision to attack on the Col de Romme and claim a commanding grip on the yellow jersey in Stage 8 of the Tour de France.

The UAE Team Emirates rider and defending Tour de France champion embarked on a solo surge four kilometres out from the top, before pushing on through Col de la Colombiere for a fourth-placed finish behind winner Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious).

Pogačar’s performance in the Alps perhaps offered the general classification picture its last significant change at the top – despite Paris still 13 stages away – with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) essentially the only contender within 4’38”.

It’s believed the reason behind the Slovenian’s aggressive approach was in part helped by a perceived ploy from his rivals to keep the Emirati team isolated during a mammoth 249-kilometre Stage 7.

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And, speaking after Sunday’s (AEST) finish at Le Grand-Bornand, the 22-year-old even admitted as much.

“Attacking is the best form of defence, no? It went really, really well,” Pogačar said.

“Maybe it was a little payback for yesterday.

“I don’t know if every mountain stage I’ll be attacking. Probably not, because the first week was really demanding, and tomorrow we have a super hard stage already.

“That can change something. We will do our best and try to ride defensive from now.”

Riding defensively was something UAE Team Emirates completely abandoned on the Col de Romme, as a reduced peloton paved the way for Davide Formolo’s pressure and Pogačar’s subsequent attack with 34 kilometres remaining.

Fellow GC contender Richard Carapaz did his best to keep pace with the defending champion, but it only propelled Pogačar further – already aware of the fatigue setting in on Team Ineos-Grenadiers.

“On the first of the three last climbs [Cote de Mont-Saxonnex], I saw that the Ineos riders didn’t feel the best,” he explained.

“I saw them, how they talked to each other. And I said, ‘let’s try to keep the pressure on them’.

“On the second-last climb (I said), ‘let’s just try to break it’.

“In the end it worked, and I just paced myself to the finish.”



The Tour de France continues tonight, and you can catch all the Stage 9 action on SBS, SBS On Demand and the SKODA Tour Tracker app from 8:30pm (AEST).


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2 min read
Published 4 July 2021 at 2:03pm
By Jonathan Bernard