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Tour de France

Wout van Aert: ‘Tadej Pogačar is not unbeatable’

Jumbo-Visma won three stages and finishes second overall with only four riders.

LIBOURNE, France (VN) — Jumbo-Visma enjoyed a great Tour de France, with three stage victories, and second place overall for the second year in a row.

Those results are even more remarkable considering that only half of the team will arrive to Paris on Sunday.

Jumbo-Visma will celebrate its success, but the Dutch-backed team is already making plans to return to the Tour next year to try to beat Tadej Pogačar.

“I do not believe that Pogačar is unbeatable,” said Wout van Aert, after winning his second stage in this Tour. “We will come back and try it again.”

Also read: Wout van Aert smashes TT in vineyards

Van Aert was part of the team that suffered a crushing defeat in 2020 and a key member of this year’s scrappy performance.

A winner at Mont Ventoux as well as Saturday’s time trial in Saint-Émilion, van Aert said the team could have gone even better if team captain Primož Roglič did not crash out in the first week.

Roglič is viewed by many as the only rider on par with Pogačar in the Tour.

So how to beat Pogačar, who is poised to win his second straight yellow jersey? For van Aert, it’s pretty easy.

“Maybe we should start with staying on the bike and having all eight riders in the race,” he said. “It would have made a huge difference this year. We saw how well [Jonas] Vingegaard and Sepp [Kuss] were climbing, so imagine having Primož with them in the final part of the Tour. We could have really made it more of a challenge for Tadej.”

Team boss Richard Plugge echoed those comments, saying that once Roglič is back at a high level, the team will be able to mount a stronger challenge.

“Pogačar was on a high level this year and did not make any mistakes,” Plugge said. “He deserves the victory. We hope to return to the Tour next year with a healthy Primož, along with riders like Jonas, Sepp, and the other team we have built up, and we will see what happens.”

For years, Jumbo-Visma was the team playing catchup to Ineos Grenadiers. Now with the sudden rise of Pogačar, the team finds itself chasing another rival.

Staying healthy and upright is often half the battle. Jumbo-Visma found that out this year.