Jumbo-Visma finds hope in a traumatic place in the yellow battle with Pogacar NOW

Tadej Pogacar also showed in the seventh stage of the Tour de France that he is currently the best rider in the world, but on La Planche des Belles Filles, Jumbo-Visma gained confidence on Friday. Jonas Vingegaard almost defeated Pogacar and Primoz Roglic proved that he should not be written off after his hard fall.

Grischa Niermann always gives the Jumbo-Visma riders as much information as possible about the course during the race, but on Friday he deliberately withheld some information in the final of the seventh stage.

“I deliberately did not tell the men over the radio when we came to the time trial course from two years ago,” said the team leader of the Dutch team. “I just said, ‘You know it here.'”

The climb time trial on the penultimate day of the 2020 Tour will always remain one of the most painful moments in Jumbo-Visma’s history. Roglic seemed on his way to the overall win in the Tour de France, but was knocked out of the yellow jersey at La Planche des Belles Filles by an unleashed Pogacar.

It is a trauma that is still not fully processed. “Of course that played a role today, at least for me. I thought: should we go here again”, says Niermann. “But I think we can make peace with this mountain now.”

Vingegaard is counting on longer cols in the Alps and Pyrenees

The results of Friday’s stage say that Pogacar was once again too strong for Jumbo-Visma at La Planche des Belles Filles. But the feeling with the black-and-yellow formation is completely different than in 2020. Vingegaard came very close to the stage victory with an acceleration in the last 150 meters, but the Dane was overtaken by Pogacar in the last 15 meters. Roglic finished third in twelve seconds.

“The fact that Jonas comes second here and was able to really battle with Pogacar, gives a lot of confidence for the coming weeks,” said Steven Kruijswijk, who was able to assist his leaders well into the final.

The American Jumbo-Visma servant Sepp Kuss also arrived at the team bus with a very satisfied feeling. “We knew this finish was perfect for Pogacar: a twenty minute climb, with an explosive end. Jonas prefers the longer climbs, so it’s a good sign that he was so close to Pogacar. Jonas is very strong and will only be stronger in the coming weeks in the tough stages in the Alps and the Pyrenees.”

Of course at Jumbo-Visma they also know that Pogacar will also be very difficult to beat in the toughest mountain stages, especially with the form that the Slovenian defending champion has displayed in the first Tour week.

But Vingegaard is ‘only’ 35 seconds from the yellow card after seven rides, so that the gap with Pogacar is not yet unbridgeable. “We are still competing for the overall victory, we are very satisfied with that,” said general manager Richard Plugge. “There are still a lot of mountains to come, so we’re sticking to our plan.”

Team of Pogacar remains wary of Jumbo-Visma

That plan still provides for Pogacar to be bombarded with two leaders. Roglic seemed to drop out in the battle for yellow on Wednesday when he fell hard in the cobblestone stage, but on Friday the Slovenian was ‘normal’ again among the best climbers despite considerable back pain. In the standings he climbed to thirteenth place, at 2.45 minutes from Pogacar.

“We still have two strong leaders,” Vingegaard said. “We have to try to use that to our advantage in the mountain stages for the next two weeks.”

In that scenario it is very important how strong UAE Team Emirates is. Pogacar’s team made a good impression in Friday’s stage, but remains wary of the strength of its biggest competitor.

“We will never underestimate Jumbo-Visma, we will never become complacent. We expect war every day,” said George Bennett, who left the Dutch team after seven years last winter and now rides the Tour on behalf of UAE Team Emirates.

“Tadej is the best rider I’ve seen in my life. But I also know Primoz and Jonas and know how strong Jumbo-Visma is. Maybe Tadej cannot be beaten one against one, but Jumbo-Visma could handle situations in the race.” create where they have an advantage with two strong men. So we face a very tough battle. And as a fan of cycling I look forward to it.”

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