Gravel stage could be decisive in Tour de France, warns Tadej Pogačar

Tour de France leader Tadej Pogačar described Saturday’s stage as “boring,” finishing safely in the peloton at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises. Stage 8, much like other sprinter-friendly stages, was relatively quiet, with Jonas Abrahamsen of Uno-X Mobility in the breakaway for most of the day. Reflecting on the week, Pogačar remarked, “This week is a little bit like there’s nothing to look forward to.”

Despite the calm, Pogačar is gearing up for the gravel roads around Troyes on stage 9. He noted, “You need to be even more sharp, even more focused than today,” acknowledging the potential pitfalls such as wind, rain, and punctures. Pogačar said, “It’s not going to be decisive, but you can lose the Tour tomorrow. Having good team control and concentration to the finish line will be essential.”

Some in the cycling community, including Patrick Lefevere of Soudal-QuickStep, have criticised the inclusion of gravel stages in Grand Tours, suggesting they introduce too much luck into the mix. However, Pogačar shrugged off these concerns, stating, “There are always these questions – ‘Is this stage right in or not in the Tour?’ I’m not the one to ask, I need to race it, whether it’s there or not.”

The UAE Team Emirates camp experienced a slight hiccup during the Tour’s first mountain stage over the Col du Galibier, when João Almeida appeared to chastise Juan Ayuso for not riding at the front. Pogačar reassured followers, saying, “Obviously, we have a really strong team – João, Juan and Adam [Yates] – really close on GC. It’s a good card to have actually and for now, the mood still pretty good.”

Pogačar addressed rumours of discontent with a zipped mouth gesture, adding, “We all know why we are here, and what the main goal is. So far, so good.”