Tour de France: Tadej Pogačar admits he fell into Jumbo-Visma’s trap on the Col du Galibier

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Tadej Pogačar could not recover lost ground Thursday on Alpe d’Huez a day after his spectacular crack high in the French Alps at the Tour de France.

In what was his first time up the famed climb, the two-time defending champion tried to attack twice on the upper reaches of Alpe d’Huez, but Jonas Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma were all over him.

“He is really impressive. He is climbing so good, and his team is so strong,” Pogačar said. “It is not finished yet. We will keep battling until the end.”

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All eyes were on Pogačar as he lined up for stage 12 and the monster climbing stage over the Galibier and the Croix de Fer before the famed 21 switchbacks at Alpe d’Huez.

Jumbo-Visma seemed intent on keeping Pogačar on the back foot, and the Dutch-backed squad set an infernal pace to keep the GC favorites on deadlock until the final climb up the Alpe.

‘Maybe I should have laid back on the Galibier’

Pogačar says he made a mistake Wednesday by following too many attacks.

Pogačar admitted he made a mistake Wednesday by falling into a trap set by Jumbo-Visma and chasing down a series of attacks by Vingegaard and Primož Roglič on the lower flanks of the Col du Galibier in stage 11.

“It was too many attacks and I was maybe stupid, maybe I should have laid back on the Galibier,” Pogačar said. “I was really good on the Galibier, and I paid the price on the Granon. Today I have my legs back.”

The admission is the clearest explanation so far is to what led to Pogačar’s spectacular collapse Wednesday on the hors-categorie summit finale that opened the door for Vingegaard to snatch yellow.

On Thursday, a recovered Pogačar said he learned a lesson, one that he hopes will not cost him a third yellow jersey.

“After what happened yesterday, it was not such a bad day in the end,” Pogačar said. “I know why I cracked yesterday, and I know it will be hard to happen again like the same situation as yesterday.

“Today I tried, but without 100 percent confidence after yesterday. I can go with the head up and the morale is good. It’s going to be amazing to see this battle in the GC and it will be interesting to see how we play it in the Pyrénées.”

Two attacks on Alpe d’Huez

Pogačar attacked twice to try to drop Vingegaard without success. (Photo: Bernard Papon – Pool/Getty Images)

Pogačar was at least intent on trying Thursday in his first climb up the famed mountain road at the Tour.

On the upper part of Alpe d’Huez, Sepp Kuss took the final pulls when Pogačar pounced the first time with just over 4km to go. Vingegaard quickly marked his wheel. Another half-hearted effort with about 2km was equally snuffed.

Even a finish-line sprint could not shake the stubborn Dane, and Pogačar led the favorites across the line in fifth.

“I was not 100 percent confident today because I cracked yesterday. It was a different story today and I had more belief in myself and in my attacks,” he said. “It was still good. I am happy today and I am happy with my legs, and I am looking forward to the upcoming days.”

Pogačar finds himself going into Friday’s transition stage to Saint-Etienne in second place at 2:22 behind Vingegaard.

On Thursday, the Dane showed no signs of pressure or strain from carrying the added responsibility of the yellow jersey.

The fact that Pogačar did not carry on with his attacks showed how quickly Vingegaard responded and perhaps revealed that Pogačar was still feeling the effects of Wednesday’s struggles on Col du Granon.

Pogačar said he is relishing the chance to try to make a comeback to try to win his third yellow jersey.

“It is not really new territory. When I was younger I always had to attack,” he said. “Even when I was a small kid, I was always behind and I always had to attack, and I know how it is. I like it that way.”

When asked if he thinks he can still win the Tour de France, Pogačar was emphatic.

“We hope so. I think so, yes.”

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