Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) may look “unbeatable”, but Eurosport expert Alberto Contador has warned there are few guarantees when it comes to the Tour de France.
The 24-year-old continues his Classics campaign at E3 Saxo Classic on Friday, although his chief mission is to win a third Tour title.
And Contador was keen to stress that while the Slovenian is “capable of almost anything”, there was still plenty that could happen between now and when the winner is honoured on the Champs-Elysees on July 23.
“Do I think Pogacar is unstoppable this season? Well, if we go by what we have seen so far then we could say he looks unstoppable,” began seven-time Grand Tour champion Contador.
“But I think that there is a lot of the season left. I think he is going for the Classics this year… and we will need to see how he manages his efforts. He is putting a lot of energy into his attacks and this could end up taking its toll.
“The Tour is by no means an easy task. There are a lot of factors that come into play. Hitting peak form, preparation, the recovery over three weeks, how his team work, how Jumbo work – his main rival. I think there are a lot of variables.
“It’s true, for now he looks unbeatable and Pogacar is capable of almost anything but I do think that there will be some races that will be harder for him than others.”
‘Attack, attack, attack!’ – Jumbo-Visma try to crack Pogacar in thriller
Vingegaard and Roglic took it in turns to accelerate clear on an iconic Stage 11, forcing Pogacar to close each move and expend energy. The moment he latched back on, the other Jumbo rider went over the top – and so the game repeated.
So irritated was Pogacar at the barrage, that he dropped his own attack – a decision that appeared naïve when he later cracked on the final climb as his hopes for a third straight yellow jersey unravelled.
Contador, however, is hoping that Pogacar will not relax his attacking instincts despite blowing up last year.
“I wouldn’t like it because I think one of the things that allows us cycling fans to enjoy the sport is enjoy the type of show that Pogacar can put on,” said Contador.
“It’s incredible how he can go for it from a great distance from the finish line, or in the yellow jersey or just for some bonus seconds to keep gaining time.
“I think that is gold and I wouldn’t like to see him race in a smarter way. A separate thing is what him and his team decide with regards to winning the Tour de France again.”
Contador is no stranger to having to win back the yellow jersey. After winning the Tour in 2007, he joined Astana, only to see his new team barred from entering the Tour by organisers ASO due to previous doping at the team in 2008.
Undeterred, he returned a year later to win a second title in France.
“It happened to me in 2009,” Contador recalled.
“There is almost a burning eagerness for the race to start. Wanting to give everything your body has got and trying to gain differences on any stage whether it’s a mountain stage or a time trial… because there is no other thought in your mind apart from winning the Tour de France again.
“I think that right now this is what is going through Tadej Pogacar’s head. I am sure the thought has fuelled him during the pre-season and before the first race of the season.
“And I think that at the Tour de France he will have a real hunger to get back onto the highest point of the podium in Paris.”
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