Pogacar Faces First Time Trial Challenge at Tour de France, Calls Evenepoel Favourite

Following two flat sprint stages, Tadej Pogačar, the Tour de France leader, will re-enter the general classification battle on Friday with the race’s first time trial. Pogačar came through stages 5 and 6 unscathed, narrowly avoiding a fall on Wednesday and finding himself without UAE Team Emirates teammates in the mid-stage echelons on Thursday.

The time trial runs between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin. At 25.3km long with 300 metres of elevation gain, it’s not the hardest or longest test in Tour history. However, it could potentially cause a significant shake-up at the top of the general classification until the race reaches the Pyrenees on 13th July. With only 59km of time trialling in the entire race, the time gained or lost in Burgundy will be crucial.

Pogačar heads into the stage with a 45-second lead over second-placed Remco Evenepoel, the reigning world time trial champion. Two-time Tour winner Jonas Vingegaard is third overall, 50 seconds behind Pogačar.

“I checked it out a really long time ago,” Pogačar said in the flash interview following stage 6. “I must say I like the parcours. It’s a nice time trial. It’s quite fast but you also need to be really powerful. It’s not all about being aerodynamic. It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow.”

The route is largely flat but includes a bump in the middle. This 1.5km uphill to Curley, averaging 3% gradient, is not steep enough to warrant switching to a climbing bike.

Both Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates team sports manager Joxean ‘Matxin’ Fernandez have tipped Evenepoel for success on the course. “I think tomorrow the favourite is Remco, for sure,” Pogačar said. “He’s the world champion and he’s shown many times that he can beat everyone. I think he’s the one to look to, but I think I can also do a pretty solid time trial.”

Matxin echoed this sentiment, describing the route as “perfect” for the second-placed Belgian. “This time trial is really different from last year,” he said. “It’s really flat and, in my opinion, the profile is perfect for Evenepoel. In another year it’s more for climbers, but this one maybe not. Jonas is one of the best in the world. He’ll obviously put in a good performance but in terms of condition and type of route, my favourite is Evenepoel.”

Pogačar has worked diligently with his team and material providers to improve his time-trialling skills and avert another situation like the uphill run to Combloux, where he lost 1:38 to Vingegaard. Matxin detailed some of the ways both rider and team have focused on the time trial this season: “He’s been different in his work. He’s worked more on the track tests, in the wind tunnel, on his position. He’s done more hours on his time trial bike. Working more and for more hours, down to the last day, is really important.”

The team has also incorporated a time-saving and energy-saving ‘marginal gain’. This year’s Tour has seen Pogačar wear yellow for four of the six stages, with his team limiting his media duties to maximise his recovery. The Slovenian even skipped Thursday’s post-stage press conference.

“It’s a lighter bike, too,” Matxin added. “The weight will be really important in the last time trial in Nice, a really hard time trial, but for this one, it’s more about the aerodynamics. It’s been about finding the perfect balance between comfort and aerodynamics. It’s aerodynamics, aerodynamics, aerodynamics, and then you stop in a comfortable position.”

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Following two flat sprint stages, Tadej Pogačar, the Tour de France leader, will re-enter the general classification battle on Friday with the race’s first time trial. Pogačar came through stages 5 and 6 unscathed, narrowly avoiding a fall on Wednesday and finding himself without UAE Team Emirates teammates in the mid-stage echelons on Thursday.

The time trial runs between Nuits-Saint-Georges and Gevrey-Chambertin. At 25.3km long with 300 metres of elevation gain, it’s not the hardest or longest test in Tour history. However, it could potentially cause a significant shake-up at the top of the general classification until the race reaches the Pyrenees on 13th July. With only 59km of time trialling in the entire race, the time gained or lost in Burgundy will be crucial.

Pogačar heads into the stage with a 45-second lead over second-placed Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep), the reigning world time trial champion. Two-time Tour winner Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) is third overall, 50 seconds behind Pogačar.

“I checked it out a really long time ago,” Pogačar said in the flash interview following stage 6. “I must say I like the parcours. It’s a nice time trial. It’s quite fast but you also need to be really powerful. It’s not all about being aerodynamic. It’s going to be interesting to see how it goes tomorrow.”

The route is largely flat but includes a bump in the middle. This 1.5km uphill to Curley, averaging 3% gradient, is not steep enough to warrant switching to a climbing bike.

Both Pogačar and UAE Team Emirates team sports manager Joxean ‘Matxin’ Fernandez have tipped Evenepoel for success on the course. “I think tomorrow the favourite is Remco, for sure,” Pogačar said. “He’s the world champion and he’s shown many times that he can beat everyone. I think he’s the one to look to, but I think I can also do a pretty solid time trial.”

Matxin echoed this sentiment, describing the route as “perfect” for the second-placed Belgian. “This time trial is really different from last year,” he said. “It’s really flat and, in my opinion, the profile is perfect for Evenepoel. In another year it’s more for climbers, but this one maybe not. Jonas is one of the best in the world. He’ll obviously put in a good performance but in terms of condition and type of route, my favourite is Evenepoel.”

Pogačar has worked diligently with his team and material providers to improve his time-trialling skills and avert another situation like the uphill run to Combloux, where he lost 1:38 to Vingegaard. Matxin detailed some of the ways both rider and team have focused on the time trial this season: “He’s been different in his work. He’s worked more on the track tests, in the wind tunnel, on his position. He’s done more hours on his time trial bike. Working more and for more hours, down to the last day, is really important.”

The team has also incorporated a time-saving and energy-saving ‘marginal gain’. This year’s Tour has seen Pogačar wear yellow for four of the six stages, with his team limiting his media duties to maximise his recovery. The Slovenian even skipped Thursday’s post-stage press conference.

“It’s a lighter bike, too,” Matxin added. “The weight will be really important in the last time trial in Nice, a really hard time trial, but for this one, it’s more about the aerodynamics. It’s been about finding the perfect balance between comfort and aerodynamics. It’s aerodynamics, aerodynamics, aerodynamics, and then you stop in a comfortable position.”

Stay updated with all the latest race content, interviews, features, reviews, and expert buying guides. Get unlimited access to our coverage of the Tour de France, including breaking news and analysis reported by our journalists on the ground from every stage of the race as it happens. Find out more.