After a week of racing, the Slovenian ace won the three most difficult stages in France and Italy and won the overall classification, taking home three shirts each. Even better than last year, Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič are on the right track, but May and July are still a long way off.
What is left beforeto the others and what should the competitors think? The week they are in is behind them The Slovenian exceeded expectations and exchanged last year’s titles in the main two spring stage races and wrote historic double twin.
Competitors recognize the superiority of the Slovenians
“This Roglič really never ‘dies’. The strongest cyclist in the peloton, right after Tadej Pogačar,” according to Rogličeva the third consecutive stage victory of the mufflers Tao Geohegan Hartthe winner of the Tour of Italy 2020, who took the final third place in the Tour from Tyrrhenian to the Adriatic Sea and nevertheless stepped on the podium of the World Series stage race for the second time in his career.
“I was hoping Tadej would have a little bit worse legs, but he was really, really strong. When he attacked, everyone was like, ‘Wow! I’m not even going to try to go after him.’ At least that’s how I felt.” was discovered Jonas Vingegaardthe winner of last year’s Tour de France, in which he ousted Pogačar from the throne after an epic duel, but this time he had to be at Paris–Nice, satisfied with third place, which is his third podium in the one-week races.
Pogačar – Vingegaard 1:0, but that was the case last year as well
But last March’s story teaches both Slovenian champions that things can be quite different in the summer. “Even last year, Jonas was second in Tirreno-Adriatica and he couldn’t follow me in the mountain stage, but then he shook me in the mountains in the Tour de France. You never know, maybe this year someone third can also reach the top, but he himself I will definitely fight to win” it is Tadej Pogačar after his triumphant arrival in Nice summarized the key conclusion. He’s winning now and in current races, you can’t win in March big bows. The difference and reserve in the preparation that the world’s number one cyclist has – this year, compared to previous winters, he has not yet been on altitude training.
Before the meeting between the winners of the last three Dirks in France, the alleged psychological advantage that should be gained by the better player in the Pogačar-Vingegaard duel was emphasized. The winner partially agreed with this: “Quite a bit of self-confidence gained. Some difficult stages, fierce competition. Even more relaxed going forward.” The Dane also nodded indirectly: “I still have a lot of work to do before the Tour de France. I was hoping that Tadej wouldn’t be so strong, but it was a good week of racing.”
A different starting point for the Dane supported by victories
In last year’s Race from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Adriatic Sea, Vingegaard already lost 35 seconds against Pogačar in the opening time trial, and on the difficult mountain stage over snowy Carpegne, he was second at the finish line by one minute and three seconds behind. In the end, the Slovenian celebrated his victory over the Dane by one minute and 52 seconds. But the summer was a different song: on Granon (+2:51) and Hautacam (+1:04), Vingegaard was too strong for Pogačar, who was faster than him even on the hectic time trial at the end. In this Paris-Nice race, the difference was one minute and 39 seconds.
In between, he was very close until the last day David Gaudu, fourth in the Tour de France last year, and now the winner of the 2016 Tour de l’Avenir has stepped on the podium in a World Series stage race for the first time in his career. The French already believe that this is a turning point and that the 26-year-old Breton will also be mixing things up with the first favorites in July.
Starting point before last year The race of two seas and this time Race to the Sun was different. As the winner of the Tour de France at the Gran Camino, Vingegaard responded to Pogačar’s successes in Andalusia with a series of victories, but the defender of the most important yellow shirt from the last two seasons has a proven rise in form. The 26-year-old Dane will follow his established route to the summit in July and go to the Tour of the Basque Country in April, after which he wants to be competitive in the Ardennes Monument Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
Confirmation that he is on the right track for the Giro
Jumbo Visma, along with Vingegaard, did not have the two key men of last year’s victory in France last week: Wout van Aert will work for the captain after the spring peak at the classics in the summer, while he will Primož Roglič the captain bee in the Race of Italy.
“I expected suffering, but above all I wanted to race. In the end, everything turned out well. The fact that I managed to get a result is even better. As the Race of Italy approaches, this is above all a confirmation that we are doing well,” said Roglič after his 12th stage win in the World Series, breaking Chris Froome’s company as the record holder in the cycling World Tour era (since 2011).
It’s still a bit lacking on long climbs
“The day on Sassotetto was challenging, I had to bite,” the 33-year-old Zasavec confirmed that he is not yet the best at longer climbs, as his personal trainer Mathieu Heijboer had predicted. After the race, sports director Arthur van Dongen admitted that they were also lucky on the only real mountain stage. “Because the target climb was shortened by two kilometers and there was a strong wind blowing in the chest.”
“It’s been a difficult winter for me. I won’t exactly say that it was my worst period, but without my family and everyone who believed in me, it wouldn’t have been possible. Now I have to improve a little more uphill to cope with the challenges that they’re waiting. That’s the beauty of cycling, pushing yourself beyond your limits every day.” Roglič emphasized his approach and orientation.
With extremely tactical cycling and hiding in the main body, he strung together a rarely seen three stage victories and picked up a bunch of knock-off seconds, without which he would not have won. Zasava eagle he ended up with 30, and second-placed Joao Almeida only four, and in the end the Portuguese was 18 seconds behind.
Meeting with Evenepoel in Catalonia
Uphill sprints, along short or long finish slopes, are the specialty of the two Slovenian cycling champions, as is the collection of bonuses. Competitors have yet to find an answer to this. One of the few that has it is Remco Evenepoelwho had a good lead at the Race to Spain last year, but it was melting away, after which came Roglic’s fatal accident in the sprint of the last week of La Vuelta on the 22nd.
Roglič will meet the world champion and, on paper, the first favorite of the May 2023 Giro in a week at the Race of Catalonia. The next challenge and Roglic’s first goal this spring, after which he and Jumbo Visma will know where they are in the preparations for the Race of Italy. Three objectives on longer slopes and four additional rugged stages will provide the answers.
To one-day races for extra fun
If Roglič will be focused only on stage races until May 28 and the finish line of the pink race in Rome, Pogačar is now switching cycling mentality, as one-day races await him until the end of spring. The first already on Saturday – the first cycling monument Milan-Sanremo, on which he was fifth last year.
“New challenges. The one-day races are fun and there’s a lot going on. It’s predicted to be a great classic season, but I don’t know what the results will be. The goals for the beginning of the season have been met, which makes me even more relaxed going into the rest of the season,” the 24-year-old man from Gorenje reiterated that he is mainly hoping for fun on the bike in Sanremo and at the classics in Belgium.