He sees cycling as a game, indifferently distils compliments and spades to his opponents and ensures that he has “a clear conscience” on doping: Tadej Pogacar has revealed himself by small touches on the road to his second Tour de France. Here are some distinctive features of the man who won his second Grand Boucle on Sunday in a row, seizing the yellow jersey in the 8e step, much earlier than in 2020 (20e step).

Hilarious striker

“Attack is the best defense,” said the 22-year-old Slovenian the day he grabbed the yellow jersey (8e stage) by scattering his rivals in the first alpine stage.This is the hallmark of the yellow jersey: when the opportunity arises, it goes into collision, even if it already has a comfortable lead over its opponents. And if he claims to have struggled in certain passes, in particular the Tourmalet, Pogacar rarely shows it on his face. “When I am in pain, I have a facial expression that looks like a smile,” the three-time stage winner explained, amused.

Smooth scythe

Always polite at the press conference, Tadej Pogacar praised some stage winners and his runner-up in the general classification, the surprising Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo). “I couldn’t follow him, he was super strong! I cracked ”, he thus recognized after being released for a moment by the Dane on the day of the double ascent of Ventoux (11e step).

The Slovenian also knows how to give scratches, for example to the team of Colombian Rigoberto Uran, a time 2e. “EF Education drove at one point, but it was downhill, it was a little weird,” he said on Tuesday.

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Gamer with a clear conscience

“I have a clear conscience as far as I am concerned”: the now two-time winner of the Tour has repeatedly refuted the suspicions of doping born of his unchallenged domination.

The search carried out on Wednesday by the gendarmerie at the hotel of the Bahrain team, winner of three stages? “Something very strange, just one more check to make sure no one is hiding anything.” “

Tadej Pogacar also highlighted the many anti-doping tests he was subjected to to attest to his innocence. “In cycling, a guy is the strongest one day, the next day he’s another rider. It’s a game for me, I like to play it, ”he said.

Grateful leader

Often isolated in the end of the most selective stages, Pogacar defended tooth and nail his team throughout the Great Loop. “A lot has been said against UAE,” he observed. His personal analysis is unambiguous: “We are the best team on this Tour. “

After knocking out his rivals from the first alpine stage, the day after a day that his teammates had struggled to control, Pogacar savored the “little revenge” taken in the name of UAE.

In the Pyrenean stages, the Slovenian particularly praised the Polish Rafal Majka, former double winner of the polka dot jersey, “from whom he has learned a lot”.

I see in him the new “Cannibal”

Sentimental Cannibal

Sometimes compared to Eddy Merckx for his stranglehold on the race, Tadej Pogacar was congratulated by the five-time Tour winner on Friday in the 19e step. The Belgian, considered by some to be the greatest champion, was impressed. “I see him as the new ‘Cannibal’,” said Merckx, who received the nickname because of his ruthless desire to win. “He can certainly win the Tour de France more than five times. “

But more than this prestigious guest, it is his companion, Urska Zigart, also a professional cyclist, whom he has often chosen to distinguish among the crowds returning to the side of the roads. “When I passed in front of my partner and my family, it was a moment of pure happiness,” savored the Slovenian terror after climbing the Col du Portet (17e step).

Before the arrival of the Tour in Andorra, the yellow jersey also reminded us that the principality was dear to his heart since he won his first stage victory on a grand Tour (Vuelta 2019). “My partner was there, it was very moving,” he recalled.

With The Canadian Press

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