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Tour de France

Tadej Pogačar: Wout van Aert ‘smashed everyone’ on stage 4 of Tour de France

The two-time defending champion says that cobbled stage will be a 'great show.'

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CALAIS, France (VN) — Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) said he’s not worried after Jumbo-Visma ripped apart the peloton over the final climb of stage 4 of the Tour de France.

In a similar fashion to the opening stage of Paris-Nice earlier this season, Jumbo-Visma hammered it on the front over the final climb, causing splits up and down the bunch. The two-time defending champion was distanced briefly on the final climb as Wout van Aert went clear with around 10 kilometers to go.

Though Van Aert would go on to take the solo win, Pogačar regained contact with the GC guys that had initially been able to follow the Belgian’s stinging attack, such as Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglič, Geraint Thomas, and Adam Yates.

Also read: Wout van Aert romps to solo victory on Tour de France stage 4

“For sure, it’s one of the special victories for him and if that was me, I would be very proud. Chapeau, because he was really the strongest,” Pogačar said. “I was too far behind to follow so I just tried to go as fast as possible to the top so I could see what the situation was and, in the end, it was ok because Van Aert dropped even his teammates. When I saw that, I was more calm and I didn’t stress,” Pogačar said.

“I think [Jumbo-Visma is] really strong and especially Van Aert, who just smashed everyone today. Not even Vingegaard and Roglič could follow him so for me that’s fine. It’s a good sign.”

Pogačar said that his poor positioning on the Côte du Cap Blanc-Nez meant he had to put in a big surge to bring the peloton leaders into view. However, he was quickly in their tails and he has taken confidence from the way he was able to respond.

“I was quite good, and I really deep dig in the climb. I felt good, the legs were ok, and the lungs were clearly working. I was just a bit out of position on the last climb and I had to work really hard, but this means that I am in good shape,” he said.

Stage 4 from Dunkirk to Calais was the first time since the 2022 Tour de France started, outside of the opening time trial, that there has been any real stress for the GC riders. That is going to dramatically change Wednesday as the peloton tackles the cobbles of northern France.

It is a stage that could dramatically change the chances for any of the overall contenders. Pogačar has tested himself on the cobbles already this season with a brief appearance at Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders but this will be an entirely different prospect for the Slovenian.

“Tomorrow, I need to survive, it will be a big war and I hope nothing serious happens like crashes,” he said. “I am looking forward to it. I think it will be an interesting stage and really hard for everyone and a great show on the TV.”