Tadej Pogačar didn't expect such a big GC gap after dominating Tour de France stage five time trial

The Slovenian is looking imperiously strong already after the first GC sort-out at the 2021 Tour

Tadej Pogačar
(Image credit: Getty)

Tadej Pogačar didn't expect to have such a large advantage over his rivals in the general classification after dominating the stage five time trial at the 2021 Tour de France.

The defending champion now leads Ineos Grenadiers' Richard Carapaz by 1-36, Jumbo-Visma's Primož Roglič by 1-40 and Geraint Thomas by 1-46, and is only eight seconds behind the yellow jersey, Mathieu van der Poel.

"The attacks will come every day probably," Pogačar said, such is the gap he's already got over his rivals this early in the race. "It’s going to be hard but that’s how it is, you're attacking or you're defending. I'm pretty motivated to see how the race develops."

Pogačar says he felt emotional as he rode to the victory after "a rough month of training" before the Tour. "At the Tour of the Basque Country I didn't find the rhythm on the bike," he says of the TT performance back in April where he finished 28 seconds slower than Roglič, the stage winner that day.

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"But I changed my position back to the position I had at Tirreno-Adriatico [when he rode a very strong time trial]. 

"I had good sensations in the way I could push it in this time trial and now I'm ready for what's next."

 The 22-year-old says he "learned a lot, but definitely made some mistakes" in a wind tunnel session he did in between Tirreno and the Tour of the Basque Country. He'd adopted a more aero position that was "so close" he could no longer push as hard as before. They then reconfigured his positioning and he's now "pretty happy" with the development of his TT set-up.

 "I started feeling good on the TT bike one week before the Tour because I changed the position," he explained. "I didn’t expect such a big [GC] gap, I knew I could have a good day, I had good legs and was motivated. In the end, I could push like how I should be able to and it was planned."

Pogačar admits that today went about as good as he could hope for, with rivals losing ground but the Slovenian remaining out of the race lead, at least for now, meaning Mathieu van der Poel's Alpecin-Fenix will have to work again on the front for at least tomorrow's flat stage and UAE Team Emirates can save their energy for the challenges to come.

"I came really close to yellow, it would be really nice to take it, it’s always a dream to be in yellow but I'm super happy with how it finished today," Pogačar said. "It couldn’t be much better ha."

 It was an imperious performance, and on today's evidence it will take a lot to stop him lining up with the number one on his jersey for the start of the 2022 Tour, and Pogačar says he feels his form is at least as good as his yellow jersey-winning legs of last year.

"We haven't had any big mountains yet so it’s hard to tell, but for short intervals and today in the time trial I can tell you that the condition is super good, the legs are good and it’s more or less the same as last year."

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