As we enter stage 7 and the first mountainous stage of the 109th edition of the Tour De France, it gives us an opportunity to reflect and take a collective deep breath after what has been an unbelievable display of world-class riding, alongside more drama than one could wish for. We’ve had incredible performances, enormous crashes, tactical astuteness from teams and riders alike, cobbles, cross-winds, photo-finishes…and we’re only just entering week 2!
It seems like many moons ago that we got underway in Denmark. A time-trial to kick-off the action before numerous fast flat stages that were of supreme benefit and attraction to the sprinters, allowing them to throw down the gauntlet and make their mark upon the Green Jersey contest. Wout Van Aert of team Jumbo – Visma was the man to beat in the early running. He produced two second place finishes in stages 2 and 3, before a performance of the highest class saw him stand atop of both the podium and General Classification in stage 4.
However, UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar was sat in third place in the GC after stage 4, quietly churning out some impressive performances to keep him in touch with the leaders ahead of the next phase of the parcours. Like a Lion stalking its prey, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, Pogacar was nestled into the group of leading riders and wasn’t going anywhere but forwards. And quickly.
His moment to strike came in the longest stage of the race, Stage 6, Binche – Longwy. The 220km route saw Pogacar really start to flex his muscles for the first time in the race, reminding the Cycling world why the greatest cyclist of his generation, and possibly ever, is the man to beat in this year’s event.
Expertly led and positioned by his UAE Team Emirates teammates Rafal Majka and Brandon McNulty, the superstar Slovenian was able to first neutralise Vuillermoz’s attack from team TotalEnergies, before finally unleash a turn of speed in the last 500 meters to secure the stage win and move him into the prestigious Yellow Jersey. It was textbook Tadej Pogacar. It was textbook UAE Team Emirates. And the prospect of competing with the back-to-back Tour De France Champion has just become all the more daunting for other GC rider’s as we enter the first mountain stage of this year’s event.
Speaking on his performance in the stage 6 victory, Pogacar was absolutely over-the-moon with the result:
“Every time I win a stage, it is even better and even more beautiful. Today was such a tough day. The first two hours of the race was crazy, with a lot of strong guys entering the breakaway and pulling the Peloton. But the team did an incredible job in pulling me into the perfect position which allowed me to attack. I am so happy.”
Who knows what we have in store for the remaining 15 stages of the race, but if they’re as pulsating and enthralling as events in week 1, we are in for a Tour De France for the ages.