Bullish Tadej Pogačar fully confident of winning yellow after passing Tour de France's 'most scary stages'

The UAE-Team Emirates rider looks unbeatable as he seeks to defend his title

Tadej Pogačar
(Image credit: Getty)

Tadej Pogačar, with a lead of over five minutes in the Tour de France general classification, has every reason to feel confident that he will keep yellow all the way to Paris.

Yesterday, he sounded caution, admitting to tiring legs. On stage 15, as the peloton crossed from France into Andorra, his team faded once more, unsettled by the pace set by Ineos Grenadiers and leaving Pogačar isolated.

He navigated the final climb expertly though and saw his lead jump back out to 5:18 to Rigoberto Uran, with Guillaume Martin dropping from second overnight to ninth again.

Perhaps Pogačar would confess to more concerns afterwards, more notes of caution. None of the like. He's in full confidence mode. 

Richard Carapaz, Ben O'Connor and Jonas Vingegaard all tried little attacks. Pogačar was unfazed. "Today they tried to attack, but I felt good today, unfortunately for them," he smiled.

"Today was a really good day to crack me, but I responded well to the heat and I enjoyed the bike today."

He must, however, be concerned that when any other team forces the rhythm, his teammates fall back as quick as the pace is upped. Not at all.

"When Ineos started to pull, I didn't feel scared," the 22-year-old brushed off. "I was comfortable with their pacing. I had very good legs."

So how about those tiring legs, Tadej. Still feeling less good to what they did a weekend ago? What about the condition of your rivals?

"I said yesterday that the whole bunch was tired and also me," he continued. "Today we saw coming into the third week of the Tour everyone is tired.

"We will see less powerful attacks probably, more guys starting to crack. That's what happens in a Grand Tour: the more you come to the end, the more guys are tired and suffering."

But not Tadej, not Slovenian's young sensation. If he was a little apprehensive about the Pyrenean stages that follow tomorrow's rest day, he did very well at hiding it.

Basically, the rest of the Tour is the easy part, he reckons. "Today was one of the hardest days," he assessed. "And yesterday was super hard and the Mont Ventoux stage was super hard.

"Those were the most scary stages coming into the Tour. I was not confident in the heat before the Tour but after this week being super hot every day, I feel more comfortable."

He reminded the press room of the "chaos, crashes and short, intense efforts" of the opening week that led to the abandonment of his rival Primož Roglič and led to Geraint Thomas riding the Tour in support of Carapaz.

Maybe that's something he's concerned about. Maybe the crashes will return. "You never what happens," he rightfully said. But he's not worried. "I am going really confident into the third week."

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.