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The Tour de France‘s defending champion Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) may not be accustomed to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix but the Slovenian will have to put that to one side for stage 5 of the Tour de France.
Wednesday’s stage has 11 sectors and 19km of cobbles in total and while the weather conditions are favorable the day is expected to cause chaos and huge time gaps for the GC riders.
Pogačar wasn’t in the race the last time the cobbles were given center stage back in 2018 but the Slovenian is expected a massive battle for position ahead of the first sector of the day. He will have to fend without classics specialist Matteo Trentin, who was ruled out through COVID-19 ahead of the race but the race favorite’s natural disposition to race aggressively and fight for position near the front of the race should hold him in good stead.
“I like to watch them on the television but to ride is a different story,” he said when asked for his opinion on the cobbles ahead of stage 5.
Pogačar has at least reconned the cobbles and the specific sectors that will be raced today. The two-time Tour winner headed to France directly after missing out on the Tour of Flanders earlier in the spring to ride all of the sectors that will be competed on during Wednesday’s stage.
Despite that limited experience Pogačar is expecting a huge fight throughout the day, and especially when the first sector comes into view.
“I’ll tell you more after the stage if I like them or not. I went to check them after Flanders this year and they’re pretty hard, and pretty tough cobbles. They’re not what worries me, it’s about the stress, the crashes, the punctures and all this stuff. The cobbles themselves aren’t that bad,” he said.
“There’s going to be a fight from the start until the finish. It will be a big mess for sure in the bunch, and then pretty hectic from the first sector all the way to the finish.”