CARCASSONNE, France (VN) – According to 2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck the yellow jersey would still be on the shoulders of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) but ‘stupid mistakes’ cost the defending champion on the stage to the summit of the Col du Granon.
Pogačar crumbled under mounting pressure from Jumbo-Visma that day and conceded almost three minutes to his main rival and current race leader Jonas Vingegaard. Jumbo exposed a number of weaknesses in Pogačar’s team that day but Schleck criticized the Slovenian for attacking on the Galibier, when all he had to do was follow. That sapped Pogačar vital energy and he was found wanting on the final climb.
“Jumbo-Visma killed him on that day but it’s also his own fault,” Schleck told VeloNews at the start of stage 15 in Rodez.
“Why did he attack on the Galibier? All these stupid mistakes of sprinting for two seconds and wasting all this for nothing in the first week. Then you come to a point where you are fucked and you lose two and a half-minutes. He could still be in yellow if he’d race differently. He had the best first week but it took one climb, then Galibier to lose the race. He should not have attacked.”
Schleck likened the situation to one of his own errors. Back in 2011 on a stage that also included the Galibier, the Luxembourg rider attacked to a long range attack from Alberto Contador. The Spaniard was well down on GC and rather than let his team do the work Schleck initially followed before dropping back. That effort cost him on the last climb to Alpe d’Huez, where he wasn’t able to crack his real rival Cadel Evans.
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) July 13, 2022
“We did the Telegraphe, Galibier and then Alpe d’Huez. I also made a mistake there. Why did I go with Contador? He was already seven minutes down. If I had just stayed in the peloton I could have dropped Cadel Evans on the last climb. I was also young like Tadej.”
The race is far from over of course, there is still a week remaining and Vingegaard has lost teammates in the last 24 hours. However, Schleck believes that the young Dane is currently on track to become Denmark’s second ever Tour de France winner.
On the stage to Mende on Saturday, Pogačar did his best to crack Vingegaard on the final climb but Schleck thinks that if the Dane had gone on the offensive he would have taken even more time on Pogačar. The pair eventually finished on the same time with Vingegaard deciding to simply mark Pogačar accelerations.
“I think that Vingegaard will win it. He’s not shown any weakness yet. I thought on the stage to Mende there was a chance for Tadej to move but he couldn’t shake him. He wasn’t even close to it. I also think that if Jonas had attacked I think he would have dropped Pogačar. I think that Jonas is racing really smart. We have Hautacam to come and it’s a hard stage. Jonas could break down, and he’s lost Roglič, but he still has van Aert with him and he’s stronger than a few complete teams. We’re at the point at seeing who is better and they’re not far from each other. I still think that Pogačar will win another stage but i don’t think he’ll take yellow back.”