Tour de France 2021: Tadej Pogačar says he counter-attacked Ineos as he was worried they might put him in trouble

Despite a respectable attempt from Ineos, Pogačar gained yet more time on stage nine

Tadej Pogačar still leads the Tour de France after stage nine
Tadej Pogačar still leads the Tour de France after stage nine
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Tadej Pogačar says he counter-attacked Ineos Grenadiers because he was worried they might put him into trouble on the final climb of stage nine at the Tour de France 2021. 

Yellow jersey Pogačar was isolated in the final on Montée de Tignes, as Ineos set a strong pace for their leader Richard Carapaz near the summit.

But after a failed attack from Carapaz, Pogačar went on the offensive and powered clear of his rivals, gaining another 30 seconds in the general classification. 

Despite his imperious form this race, Pogačar said he was still concerned about attacks from the other contenders.

Speaking after the stage, Pogačar said: “For sure [Ineos] wanted to try and make the race.

“It was a hard day, super demanding weather, not super high watts, but you get those tough legs in the end.

“They wanted to race, Carapaz felt good, in the end they tried and I respect that but I gave my best to counter-attack because I was thinking maybe if I don’t try then everyone will attack sooner or later and I will be in trouble but in the end I was okay.” 

Pogačar was left alone on the final climb after his UAE Team Emirates squad pulled in the peloton all day, but Pogačar insists he is part of one of the strongest teams in the race.

He said: “I don’t know why everyone keeps saying the UAE team is bad and we don’t have things under control but who is stronger than us? We are one of the strongest teams here for sure, the guys do a fantastic job every day and I’m in the leader’s jersey.” 

After gaining 32 seconds on Carapaz and Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo) on stage nine, Pogačar now leads the Tour by 2-01 over his nearest rival. 

But there is a wildcard challenger now in the mix, after stage nine winner Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën) clawed his way into second place overall from the breakaway. 

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Pogačar said: “He’s riding really well, today he did a huge effort, I don’t know what that cost him but in the group it was also not easy. I think Ben O’Connor is potentially a good GC rider, he’s super strong, super young and for sure he’s in contention now.”