The 109th edition of the Tour de France offered quite a few chaotic events in the introductory stages – mass crashes, injuries and backlogs of many favorites for the overall victory made highlights in cycling news around the World. Tadej luckily got away without an injury in the mass fall in the 1st stage of the race, while he lost around half a minute in Stage 3 due to a stoppage after the fall of a rider in front of him. After the stressful events in the very beginning, the first “moment of truth” for raiders aiming for general classification has arrived at the Stage 5 time trial.
“I had a look at the time trial route before the start of the Tour. Quite a difficult chronometer, in the first two-thirds it will be necessary to push to the fullest, and later on know where to keep your strength and where to race to the fullest again” said Tadej ahead of Stage 5 time trial.
Despite the historically great performance on time trial of last year’s Tour de France, with which he gained the yellow jersey and ultimately became the winner of Tour de France 2020, Tadej is still perceived as more of an exceptional cyclist in mountain stages and steep slopes rather than time trial specialist. As a result, not even the bookmakers ranked him in the narrowest circle of favorites to win the stage in the time trial. However, Tadej staged a real “déjà vu” and dominated the entire competition with another epic performance, overshadowing even the time trial specialists.
Tadej completed the 27.2 kilometer long flat route with short ascents in exactly 32 minutes with an astonishing average speed of 51km/h. Pogačar was setting the best time at each of the intermediate checks and finished 19 seconds ahead of the 2nd placed rider.
This amazing result most likely caused serious concern and frightened many competitors for the overall victory on the Champs Elysees. At the same time, Tadej just missed out on the leader’s yellow jersey. The Dutchman, Mathieu van der Poel, barely managed to defend the yellow jersey with every last ounce of strength to keep an 8-second advantage over the exceptional Pogačar.
“It was just a really good day today. I didn’t do any mistakes. It was perfect weather for me but sadly some guys went out on wet roads. Luckily I had perfect conditions and also the temperature for me was perfect. In the last few time trials, I did mistakes because I started super fast. Herewith little climbs, I started pacing myself pretty good and found a perfect rhythm until the end. The goal was not to lose time, but I gained time so I’m super happy. I’m just excited for the whole Tour. I would love to have the yellow jersey but Mathieu looks super nice, so it’s fine.” Pogačar said after winning the Stage 5 time trial.
The main rivals for the overall victory have already lost a significant amount of time to the current Tour de France winner, so we can expect a strong response and many attacks in the near future, what Tadej is very much aware of:
“For sure, now I’m more in front, we’ll have attacks coming every day, and that’s going to be hard, but this is how it is. I’m pretty motivated to see how the race develops now.”