The 21-year-old Slovenian has ridden himself confidently and consistently into the Tour’s white jersey for best young rider, and is now sitting fourth overall, 11 seconds down on yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and four seconds back on red-hot countryman Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
Pogačar bagged himself the white jersey having taken second-place on the summit finish atop Orcières-Merlette Tuesday. The youngster was one of the few riders to have both survived the onslaught of Jumbo-Visma’s powerhouse climbers hammering on the front through the final seven-kilometer climb and then had the snap to react to Roglič’s stage-winning move.
“Finishing second behind Roglič, that’s a good performance,” the UAE-Team Emirates GC hope said Tuesday. “The team rode really well. Roglič was very strong today. I might have threatened him with a better placement, but you can never be sure. ”
Riding just his second-ever grand tour and making his debut appearance in the pressure pot of the Tour de France, Pogačar is delivering on the expectations he set with a third-place overall at last year’s Vuelta a España and solid ride to fourth overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné in August.
“To wear the white jersey in the Tour is a really nice moment for me,” he said. “I wasn’t sure after I crossed the line if I had taken it or not. Wearing the white in the Vuelta was special but this is even more so.”
The Slovenian now sits six seconds ahead of Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) in the young rider’s classification, a battle that could become an intriguing sub-plot to this year’s race. While pre-race contender for the white jersey Daníel Martinez (EF Pro Cycling) is now way off the pace at four minutes down after a pair of crashes on stage 2, his teammate Sergio Higuita, Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) and Enric Mas (Movistar) are all within 34 seconds of the Slovenian leader in the battle for white.
While Pogacar has stated “it is a goal to conquer the white jersey,” he no doubt has designs on the yellow as well.
Having quietly kept his nose out of the wind and his bike upright through the tricky opening salvo of stages at this Tour to place in the top-25 every day, Pogačar has passed the first test of his rookie Tour with full marks. Currently sitting six seconds ahead of Bernal and a mass of other GC hopefuls, Pogačar has now got a series major exams to pass when the Tour hits the Pyrenees and then the Alps.