There is a certain consensus in the cycling world that the 2021 season is being one of the best in recent times. In Spain we are not aware much, at least not the general public, because among the actors of the show there is no cyclist from the country, and because the festival itself was not taking place, until now, in national follow-up races. Here we have always been more voluminous, but there are other universes. Two of the main culprits for this boil are Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, who have been competing with each other since they were children in all kinds of scenarios. They do it in the cyclocross, in the classics … AND now they have moved the duel to the Tour de France, the stellar set.
The yellow jersey, Van der Poel, and the contender, Van Aert, starred in the breakaway of the first stage of half mountain of the Tour, an appetizer of 249 kilometers to sharpen the legs before the double day of the Alps. A territory conducive to consensual escapes, but also for ambushes. With these two phenomena at stake, the most likely option was the latter. And so it happened. They both entered a group of 29 cyclists who put Tadej Pogacar on the ropes, that although he did not wear the prestigious garment, he did emerge in the peloton as the great patron of the Tour, as the virtual leader. The enemy.
Only two days after Pogacar gave a hit on the table in Laval’s time trial, that he distanced his theoretical great rivals by more than a minute, that the full analysts hung the label of future champion in Paris, just two days later, Pogacar conceded a tough defeat on the Tour. This is cycling. The presence of Van Aert in the escape he tested the consistency of the Slovenian team, which, as expected, made waters in a difficult-to-control terrain. The breakaway opened a gap, without the UAE Team being able to control it.
Pogacar’s ax on the clock was good for his individual interests, but it has also had negative consequences for his reign, because since last Wednesday the Tour went from ‘all against all’ to ‘all against Pogacar’. And that race situation was noticed during the chase, in which the Emirates team found itself without allies. Neither the Ineos, nor the Education Firt, nor the Movistar, three squads with tricks to fight the general, supported the desolate UAE.
The leading group came to exceed seven minutes ahead of Pogacar, who was reduced to five at the finish line with respect to the stage winner, Matej Mohoric, another Slovenian, and almost four with the rebellious couple. A good bite. The general is still commanded by Van der Poel, 30 seconds ahead of his eternal rival, Van Aert. The number one looks at the yellow jersey to 3:43 minutes, which is not an insurmountable difference either with the whole great mountain and with a time trial still ahead. Pogacar has experience in big tours and comebacks. The Dutchman is a novice in these struggles. Another thing is Van Aert, who already showed in 2020 that he can handle the Tour on all terrains. The Belgian now has to assume the leadership of his team, because the initial boss, Primoz Roglic, got off the hook in the final ports, still convalescing from its tremendous fall. There is sorpasso in the Jumbo.
The final toughness sank Roglic and released Richard Carapaz, which with his action advanced the strategy of Ineos, which no longer involves controlling and blocking the race as in the past for an indisputable leader, because the great leader wears other colors. Carapaz was swallowed in the final stretch, could not get any income, but left a statement of intent. It is now up to Ineos to attack, hitting, breaking the race, looking for surprise … Just like the others, including Pogacar. The comeback operation begins this weekend in the Alps. New Tour. All against Pogacar and all against all.
Changé – Laval Espace Mayenne
Wed. June 30
Tours – Châteauroux
Thu. July 01
Vierzon – Le Creusot
Fri. July 02
Oyonnax – Le Grand-Bornand
Cluses – Tignes