Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) recognises he can't rely on cutting the deficit to yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) solely on the stage 20 time trial if he is to win his third-successive Tour de France title.
Vingegaard moved into the yellow jersey on stage 11, after producing a stinging attack up Col du Granon that Pogačar failed to respond to. Despite sitting 2-22 behind the Dane on GC, though, Pogačar looked as determined and confident as ever speaking during the rest day press conference.
However, he highlighted a repeat of his 2020 performance might not be possible again this year, and has plenty of work to do as the peloton heads to the Pyrenees. On that occasion, the Slovenian snatched Tour de France victory on the final time trial from his compatriot Primož Roglič. Pogačar, 57 seconds down on GC coming into the event, finished 1-56 quicker than Roglič to take the overall win.
"I think I need to reduce all the gap until the time trial," Pogačar said. "As we saw, Jonas is really good on that trial as well.
"I know the parcours, I've done it. I've attempted the time trial twice, and have a time in my mind. But, I would not bet on the last time trial that I can gain, I don't know, 30 seconds or two minutes.
"So, I will try to give everything before the time trial to have as small a gap as possible. You cannot bet everything on the last TT."
As Pogačar alludes to, Vingegaard finished the opening stage with a time just eight seconds slower than Pogačar around the 13.2km Copenhagen circuit. While the final time trial is a longer affair, lasting 40.7km from Lacapelle-Marival to Rocamadour, the Slovenian understands fatigue is also a determining factor.
Consequently, he revealed he will try to attack multiple times over the next few days, starting on stage 16 from Carcassonne to Foix. The day features two category one climbs within the final 50km, and could prove crucial if either rider is to produce a decisive attack.
"I'm pretty confident that my legs will be fine," Pogačar added, "and that I can try an attacking race from far out and from not that far [to the finish line]. I'll try everything. There's still three super hard days, and I hope for the best."
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