And when asked about his nights with his teammate Rafal Majka, Tadej Pogacar left with a big laugh. A frank poilade of teenager that he had difficulty in restraining. Difficult to say at that time that this young face is the great favorite of this 109th Tour de France, and, at only 23 years old, he is aiming for a 3rd consecutive Grande Boucle and scares all his opponents. The Covid (which hit Matteo Trentin, one of his teammates at UAE Emirates, replaced by Marc Hirschi), the wind, the cobblestones, the bad weather or the Jumbo Visma… Nothing seems to worry him.
How are you approaching this Tour de France?
TADEJ POGACAR. I have more confidence, I have accumulated experience over the races. I did good training, my data is good. I can’t wait to leave, very excited about this race which is the biggest in the world.
You are the defending champion, the favourite, you are going to be attacked, not only by the Jumbo Visma, but also by all the teams. Does this worry you?
Not really. We also have a very strong team. On the plain, the wind, but also with Rafal Majka in the mountains… We are ready to respond to all attacks. We are very motivated, everything will be fine.
The Tour starts on Friday with a time trial, are you worried about the weather conditions?
We looked at the weather, the wind, it is possible that it will rain. So we decided I’d rather go early (he will start in 66th position, at 5:05 p.m., two minutes behind favorite Flilippo Ganna and one minute after Wout van Aert, editor’s note). This is the most comfortable position for me.
Last year, you took the yellow jersey early enough not to let go, with all the constraints that imposes (podium, press…). Would you like to take power later?
I would like to take it as soon as possible. This jersey, everyone wants it. Then, the responsibilities, the podium, the conferences, it comes with it, that’s how it is. But you never say no to the yellow jersey, you can’t refuse.
The first week promises to be complicated, with the wind and bad weather in Denmark, then the cobblestones…
It’s a tricky week, with cobblestones, bridges, curbs… But we have a very strong team, we plan to face it together. It will not only be necessary to be on the defensive, but to be aggressive, to ride in front, to fight to be in the best position. We shouldn’t be worried, we shouldn’t stress. We are ready for that.
The Covid that hit your team at the Tour of Switzerland, the Tour of Slovenia and now Matteo Trentin, doesn’t that worry you either?
It’s a bit worrying, yes. But now, we’re all here for the start, we’re taking as many precautions as possible, and everyone who’s here is negative. We’re doing well so far.
You say you are in better shape and more confident. Finally, what can happen to you on this Tour?
You never know what can happen in the race, you can have a bad day. We hope to have the chance we need every day. Everyone can also have weak moments, there can be difficulties. Even if you’re the best you can get caught in a curb, that’s the bike. There will be great battles in the mountains and nothing will be won until the Champs Elysées.