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Tour de France

Tadej Pogačar lays down early marker: Best of the GC favorites at Tour de France

The two-time defending champion stopped the clock as the best among the GC contenders to send an early marker.

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COPENHAGEN (VN) — Tadej Pogačar opened the 2022 Tour de France with a flourish to send a signal to his direct rivals.

The two-time defending champion stopped the clock as the best among the GC contenders to set an early marker in the opening day of the 2022 Tour.

“It was a really nice opening time trial, with the crowds,” Pogačar said. “I gave it all, it was really good. I enjoyed on the bike, I was a bit scared on the corners sometimes but I didn’t take risks.”

Pogačar, 23, ended the day in the white jersey as the best young rider, but with the way he roared out of the gate Friday, all indications are that he could change the shade of color by the time the race hits Paris in three weeks.

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He notched the third-best time on the short, but technical 13.2km course, seven seconds slower than the winner Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and just two from Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

Pogačar’s ride in the second part of the stage was telling. After setting the 13th time in the first 6.6 km, the Slovenian laid down the gauntlet in the second half of the course to hit the podium.

“In the end my legs felt good and I am happy with the time and where I sit in the GC,” Pogačar said. “I didn’t take any chances, still managing to put in a very good performance thanks to good legs. It was a nice result also in terms of the general classification.”

Pogačar took eight seconds out of direct rivals Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič, who were the closest in wet, rainy conditions among the GC contenders.

Other rivals were impressed but not surprised by Pogačar’s aggressive tilt.

“I am not surprised to be honest. I knew he’d be right up there,” said 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas. “He’s going to be super strong.”

While it might only be a handful of seconds, it sets the tone for Pogačar in what was everyone’s first glimpse of how he would taking on the 2022 Tour.

UAE Team Emirates said the time trial was trademark Pogačar.

“It’s Tadej, he’s always full-gas,” said UAE sport director Joxean Fernandez. “It was important not to take the risks. He’s the two-time winner of the Tour, am I surprised? It was a good performance and he’s focused on the overall, but the Tour is 20 days more.”

Tadej Pogačar was fastest among the GC contenders. (Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)