Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Tour de France

Tour de Hoody: Rivals don’t see a weakness in Tadej Pogačar

Rivals could be running out of options to attack as the Alps loom with favorable ground for defending champion.

Lock Icon

Unlock this article and unwrap savings this holiday season.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

Now 30% Off.
$4.99/month $3.49/month*

Get the one subscription to fuel all your adventures.


  • Map your next adventure with our premium GPS apps: Gaia GPS Premium and Trailforks Pro.
  • Read unlimited digital content from 15+ brands, including Outside Magazine, Triathlete, Ski, Trail Runner, and VeloNews.
  • Watch 600+ hours of endurance challenges, cycling and skiing action, and travel documentaries.
  • Learn from the pros with expert-led online courses.
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

Tadej Pogačar is poised to ride into the yellow jersey this weekend in the French Alps and perhaps keep it all the way to Paris.

With another GC rival going down in flames Friday with Primož Roglič losing more than four minutes to the favorites, the defending champion is lined up to take firm control of the race.

What can rivals do?

Pogačar can beat them on the climbs, in the time trials, and on the line for time bonuses.

“I don’t see it at the minute,” Team BikeExchange’s Simon Yates said Friday of a possible weak point. “He can do everything. If you’re picking the small things, maybe his team isn’t the strongest. Sometimes in the finals, he is isolated, but maybe that is because they’re bringing a strong climbing team. For him? I don’t see a thing.”

“I don’t think he has too many weak points,” echoed Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss said of Pogačar. “Maybe it’s his team. You can lose a lot of time every day in the Tour.”

Also read: Pogačar goes on the defensive 

So far, Pogačar has avoided the mishaps and crashes that have plagued riders like Roglič and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), who both crashed in the opening stages.

Pogačar was caught up behind a crash in stage 3 and lost some time, but did not crash. He made it all back and then some in Wednesday’s time trial.

Ineos Grenadiers revealed their hand by sending Richard Carapaz up the road late in Friday’s lumpy finale, but Movistar led a chase for 10km, perhaps to reel in the rider who left their team and to protect their GC position as well as team classification chances.

The dynamics are clear: Pogačar’s team might not be the strongest, but he is clearly the strongest rider in the bunch.

Also read: Could the echelons be the only way to attack Pogačar?

For veteran pro Dan Martin, it should set up an interesting opening weekend of climbing in the Alps.

“Everyone hopes they can take time off Tadej, and they need to take a lot of time,” said Israel Start-Up Nation’s Martin on Friday. “Everyone is seeing UAE as the weakest team. Tadej is the strongest but UAE maybe cannot control the race. It’s going to be interesting to see how aggressive people are from far out.”

For years, the strongest rider in the Tour was Chris Froome who was also on the strongest team — Team Sky. Now the tables are turned, with the strongest team lacking their ace in the hole.

It should set up some fun racing, even if the end result is the same in Paris as last year.

“It’s his race to lose. He showed he has the legs there in the TT by a mile,” said Yates. “It puts a lot of guys in a position where they have to do something. They’re used to being more conservative and staying on the wheels.”

As Bernault Hinault used to say it best, “attack!”