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Tour de France

Tour de France stage 9 roundtable: Pogačar’s podium hopes

Does Bernal need more support to defend his Tour de France title? Could Porte make the top-10? And is Pogačar on course for the podium? Time to roundtable!

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It was another madcap day of racing in the mountains at the Tour de France on Sunday, with Tadej Pogačar taking the stage and fellow Slovenian Primož Roglič moving into the yellow jersey.

A GC battle erupted on the final climb of the day, and Adam Yates was the major casualty, slipping to eighth overall. Pogačar was the undoubted winner of the day, taking the stage but also clawing back more time to move up to seventh in the classification.

With Pogačar looking as powerful and aggressive as he did this weekend, can he make it onto the podium in Paris?

Egan Bernal rode another confident stage, despite being isolated for much of the final action – does he need more support from Ineos Grenadiers to successfully defend his Tour title?

And has the top-10 on GC now settled, or will we see riders drop out and new names come in?

Let’s get the takes after another red-hot day of racing!

Can Pogačar finish on the podium at the end of the Tour?

Pogačar has attacked relentlessly through the Pyrénées.
Pogačar has attacked relentlessly through the Pyrénées. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Jim Cotton (@jim_c_1985): Definitely. He’s the most aggressive rider in the race so far, and has the legs to make it stick. He was unlucky to lose time on stage 7 given he was caught out by a crash rather than being misplaced in the crosswinds. If he can rest his legs through the day off Monday and avoid further mishap, Pogačar could take any step of the podium. He got stronger and stronger through his breakout Vuelta last year, and if he does that at this Tour, he could do great things.

Fred Dreier (@freddreier): Oh yes. He needs to attack again and again in the Alps, but Pogačar is definitely capable of the podium, and maybe even the victory. Third place is only 16 seconds away from him right now, and that is definitely doable on the Col de la Loze, especially if Guillaume Martin and Romain Bardet continue to tire out.

Dan Cavallari (@browntiedan): He certainly can. And to be honest, given how strong he looks now, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him on the podium in Paris, or close to it. There’s a lot of strength and experience standing between him and the podium, however, and today’s stage win makes him something of a marked man. If anyone is going to keep Pogačar off the podium, I think it’s going to be Nairo Quintana, who has laid low so far but has looked strong, patient, and well on-form as Jumbo-Visma burns its matches early.

Does Bernal need more support from Ineos Grenadiers if he’s going to defend his title?

Bernal often looks outnumbered, but never outgunned.
Bernal often looks outnumbered, but never outgunned. Photo: Benoit Tessier – Pool/Getty Images

Fred: No, I honestly don’t see what more support from Team Ineos Grenadiers would do for him at this point. Carapaz isn’t a threat for yellow, so he cannot do much to lure anyone out. I think at this point it’s going to be a mano-a-mano battle between Bernal and Roglič on the big climbs.

Dan: Yes, and I think it will come as the Tour progresses. Tomorrow is a rest day, a good opportunity for Ineos Grenadiers to adjust strategy for week two and assess what tools they have to get Bernal where he needs to be by the time Paris rolls around. With only 21 seconds separating Bernal from Roglic, I expect Ineos Grenadiers to step up during week two to keep Bernal near the top of the standings. Jumbo-Visma has also burned a lot of matches during the first week; I expect Ineos has taken notice.

Jim: Bernal seems to be doing fine without much assistance. He can hold the wheels of Jumbo-Visma without teammates, and is among the top climbers in the bunch. And I can imagine when we hit the super-long, super-steep climbs in the Alps, he’ll get even stronger. On top of that, he’s riding for a team with all the accumulated know-how of Brailsford and Co – and that could count for even more than domestiques on the road.

Do you think that the riders currently in the top-10 on GC will change?

Yates leads home a chase group.
There is now just 1:42 between the top 10 riders in the GC. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Dan: Only slightly. I think Carapaz or Porte can still crack the top 10, and one bad day can knock Landa, Lopez, or Yates right out of contention. The top five of the GC, I think, will largely stay the same, with Pogačar and Quintana playing the X-factors. Pogačar has shown incredible strength during the first week, and it’s clear he’s willing to take chances to animate the race and get himself higher in the GC. He’ll be a fun one to watch.

Fred: Yes. I think Yates and Lopez are in danger of falling out, while Porte and Enric Mas will move into the top-10. As for the order in the top-10, that is bound to change in many different ways. I see Pogačar and Landa moving up and Martin and Bardet potentially slipping down.

Jim: If any riders are on the way out of that top-10, it would be Yates and maybe Lopez for me. Before today’s stage I’d also have said Landa, but the Basque looked strong and spritely today and I can see him moving toward the top six. Porte, currently in 11th and just 11 seconds off tenth-place, looked better today, and could be on the upward curve. But, knowing Porte, disaster could strike at any moment and knock him out of the running.