July 31, 2021

Tour de France: Pogacar arouses astonishment and doubts

“It was as if we didn’t exist,” said the Spanish hopefuls Enric Mas, commenting on Pogacar’s dominance. After the start of the millennium overshadowed by doping scandals, cycling has done a lot to be credible again. But now this phenomenon comes along and makes the other professionals from the circle of favorites look as if they are not even close to his level. “They attacked me and I respect that. In the end you need good legs,” said last year’s winner Pogacar stoically after the two Alpine stages.

In cycling, something like this reflexively raises questions and speculations. The answers from Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates are the usual: great talent, even greater will, hard training. But his outstanding time trial and the amazing 30 km solo over two mountains on the first alpine stage leave doubters no peace.

Comparison of the times lags

They then state that Pogacar mastered the Col de la Colombiere in 21:55 minutes faster than the Dane Michael Rasmussen, who was later taken out of the race for suspected doping in 2007, and the Schleck brothers and Alberto Contador in 2009. However, the comparison lags, after all, factors such as weather, wind, material development and tactics have to be taken into account. In 2018, a group of 14 with Chris Froome, Egan Bernal, Tom Dumoulin and Alejandro Valverde drove only a second slower on this mountain.

In the fight against the clock, Pogacar had clearly prevailed over the Swiss time trial specialist Stefan Küng. However, Küng was on a wet road, the Slovenian was dry. He described his appearance on the tour as “perfect”, and – which is clearly visible – he worked on his position on the bike.

Team and environment with a dubious reputation

However, there are doubts about Pogacar’s team. UAE is the successor to the Lampre racing team, which has had some very dazzling doping cases. The team manager is Maruo Gianetti, whose former driver Riccardo Ricco caused several doping scandals. Tour director Christian Prudhomme once described Gianetti as a “manager with a bad reputation”, and the Swiss was for a time considered an undesirable person on the tour.

Pogacar receives the instructions from the team car from Adrej Hauptman. The Slovenian was excluded from the tour as a driver in 2000 with an excessive hematocrit value that could indicate doping. The area around Pogacar, it is undisputed, does not have the best CVs.

The Spanish doctor Inigo San Millan is planning Pogacar’s training. The doctor’s plan is based on the reproduction of mitochondria, i.e. cell components for energy production. This should give the 2020 tour winner an advantage alongside his undisputed talent. When he talks about Pogacar, San Millan becomes enthusiastic: “A man with absolutely unbelievable physiological parameters.” There it was again, this “unbelievable”.

108. Tour de France

Overall rating

Status after nine of 21 stages:
1. Tadej Pogacar SLO 34:11:10
2. Ben O’Connor OUT + 2:01
3. Rigoberto Uran COL 5:18
4. Jonas Vingegaard THE 5:32
5. Richard Carapaz ECU 5:33
6. Enric Mas ESP 5:47
7. Wilco Kelderman NED 5:58
8. Alexei Luzenko KAZ 6:12
9. Guillaume Martin FROM 7:02
10. David Gaudu FROM 7:22
20. Wout van Aert BEL 27:23
33. Patrick Konrad OR 44:22
107. Michael Gogl OR 1:29:08
129. Lukas Pöstlberger OR 1:36:48
157. Marco Haller OR 1:50:00