By Jonny Long
The Slovenian looked imperious in the stage five time trial, the flat race against the clock being the place where many had expected the likes of Primož Roglič and Geraint Thomas to gain on the 22-year-old before the mountains, but things didn't go to plan.
Now, already more than a minute and a half down, with the caveat that there's still a lot of road left to race of course, it's up to the Ineos Grenadiers and Jumbo-Visma to actually race the next two weeks rather than barrel up and over the climbs, the peloton strung out behind in displays of defensive dominance.
Geraint Thomas has spent the last decade as part of the Sky/Ineos train, controlling the race and suffocating any threat to their Tour dominance. But this year they'll have to race differently, and the Welshman is promising fireworks after managing to survive a chaotic first week that he had predicted before the start.
"It's still gonna be stressful but it'll be interesting now," Thomas told Cycling Weekly before the start of stage seven. "It'll be a different race, especially after tomorrow.
"We'll how it goes, hopefully I feel okay. It's just been a bit of a battle to get through. It's one of those things, hopefully I'll just feel better day-by-day."
Slightly apprehensive about his own form following his crash on stage three, which Luke Rowe didn't think the Welshman would get up from. Thomas then limited his losses in the time trial and is still within touching distance of the top of the GC, but far enough away that Ineos have to make a dent, make UAE Team Emirates work for it, and it sounds like that's what Ineos Grenadiers intend to do.
"It'll definitely be a different style [of racing]. I think it will be very aggressive from the outset. I'm sure it'll be fun to watch," Thomas said. We'll hold you to that, G.
Certainly, the fight for yellow is looking tasty, the strongest rider in the race not being on either of the two strongest teams. While some are already seeing the writing on the wall for Pogačar's title defence, the strength of his squad will be pushed to their limit.
"For sure they're a strong team but we'll see how they all hold up. I think it depends on how they go this weekend, but then obviously it's still two weeks to go of the Tour as well. It's definitely going to be an exciting race."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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