'Even he doesn't know his own limits': Matej Mohoric marvels at close friend Tadej Pogačar's Tour de France domination

Between the pair, Slovenia account for more than a quarter of stage victories in this year's Tour

Tadej Pogačar and Matej Mohorič
(Image credit: Getty)

Few riders in the professional peloton know Tadej Pogačar as well as Matej Mohorič.

It's why the press often turn to the Bahrain-Victorious rider for insight into cycling's hottest property, trying to elicit new and interesting information on the rider who is just two days away from winning the Tour de France for a second successive time.

The problem, however, is that as good a talker as Mohorič is, and as revealing as he can be about his countryman, he can't tell everything there is to know about the 22-year-old because the man himself isn't even fully aware of who he is.

"Even he doesn't know his own limits," Mohorič laughed, shortly after winning his second stage of the 2021 Tour thanks to a fabulous solo attack.

That opportunity to add to the public knowledge of Pogačar, gone. Or maybe not. 

"He is very calm, very collected, the way he rides in the peloton he's always paying attention to others and not just himself," Mohorič divulges.

"He's not stressed at all. He's a very down to earth guy and I think he's just a super, super-gifted climber, in general, a rider.

"I'm also his close friend so I am also biased but he is a really nice guy and I really think he deserves all of it.

"I hope, he is coming from the same country as me, that he will bring the yellow jersey all the way to Paris."

That's all-but assured, Matej. Pogačar won the race's only previous time trial on stage five by doing what he does best: obliterating the field.

When the race entered the Alps, he did the same thing again, riding away from riders supposedly operating in the same planet as him as if they were competing in an U16 race as U7 racers.

"He proved yesterday, and the day before, he is the best climber in this Tour de France," Mohorič said, stating the obvious but projecting the truth.

"But he didn't win by minutes yesterday and the other day so the others were not that far off.

"Of course, he made the difference in the stages before but also others competitors had bad luck with the crashes in the first week and he was the one who got the best out of the first week of the Tour."

Hope for his rivals, with Mohorič reminding everyone that the near-six minute lead he has hasn't been accrued since the first rest day.

There's a thought going around the Tour's press rooms that Pogačar has been riding on easy speed in the Pyrenees; capable of winning stages 17 and 18 by a considerable distance, but choosing - for whatever reason - not to do so.

There is a white elephant in the proverbial room that the Tour is in, too. There's no Primož Roglič, Geraint Thomas injured himself, Egan Bernal is enjoying riding at altitude in Colombia, and basically he hasn't beaten a strong field. Or so the theory goes.

Mohorič has a solution. "I still think there is work to do in cycling in safety terms if we want to have all the GC contenders going all the way to the last week."

But what, Matej? "It needs to be discussed... in the future."

For now, Slovenia celebrates. 19 stages down, five stages to the country of two million. Who knows what's next. Even the protagonists don't. 

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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.