Tadej Pogačar lost his grip on the Tour de France yellow jersey on Wednesday due to an ill-timed effort and lack of food.
The defending champion ceded two minutes and 51 second to the new leader Jonas Vingegaard after a dramatic day’s racing in the Alps that terminated on the brutal Col de Granon.
It means that the Slovenian now sits third overall, 2.22 behind Vingegaard but with another savage day to come on Thursday when the peloton tackles the Col du Galibier again and then finishes atop Alpe d’Huez.
Pogačar told assembled media after the stage: “Maybe I was under-fuelled today or I just had a bad day. Everyone always has a bad day [sometimes]. I felt good until the final climb but it’s far from finished, the Tour.
“I got attacked by Jumbo-Visma. They played it well today [and] tactically they did a really good job. In the last climb it was difficult, but we will see tomorrow. I want revenge. The Tour is not over.”
The 23-year-old was solemn upon arriving back to his team’s bus having descended the Granon with his fiance Urška Žigart. Masked-up, Pogačar kissed his fiance and then proceeded to apologise to staff members.
His teammate Marc Soler confirmed theories that Pogačar didn’t eat as well as he could have done. “I think he maybe saved some food because of the speed on the Galibier, but personally it doesn’t worry me because is he is a great rider and there’s still a lot of the Tour left.
“Like every day we have been working hard to have the [race] leader and we have left a little bit of distance [to Vingegaard] to keep playing going forward.
“We only tried to keep yellow, to be calm and we wanted a good rhythm. Jumbo wanted to try [something], and at the beginning it seemed that everything was OK. In the end, occasionally these things can happen, no?”
UAE Emirates' team manager Mauro Gianetti further explained how the day did not go to plan.
He said: “[The plan was that] in a good condition Tadej would attack [and] play the game with Vingegaard to show he is very strong. Today Vingegaard made the difference [because] he was stronger. He left some energy for the last four or five kilometres to make this big difference.
“I am very proud all of the team and Tadej. Maybe he did too much of an effort on the Galibier. He was forced to do a lot on the Col du Télégraphe , and probably this power [effort] is what he [had planned to leave] in the legs for the last four or five kilometres.
“Jumbo, today, did a very good tactic. They are an incredibly strong team, and our team is with two riders less, which of course makes it more difficult.”
Like Pogačar, Gianetti remained bullish about his rider coming from behind to win the Tour.
“There is still a week-and-a half in the Tour. Of course Vingegaard and Jumbo showed today they are very strong, but we’re here. We will enjoy this Tour until the end, thinking and believing it is possible. We know it will not be easy but we need to play our game.”
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