Almost two years ago, Tadej Pogacar sensationally crowned himself the winner of the tour on the spectacular Planche des Belles Filles. On Friday he can take an early step towards the third overall victory in a row at the same place.
When the Tour de France stops again on the Planche des Belles Filles on Friday after almost two years, it will be a very special return for Tadej Pogacar. The 23-year-old, meanwhile a two-time Tour winner and top favourite, celebrated the first major triumph of his already great career here. The Slovenian had taken almost two minutes from his compatriot Primoz Roglic in the time trial – and thus snatched the 2020 Tour victory from him in the last meters.
“I thought I was dreaming. It felt like my head would explode,” said Pogacar in retrospect. A few minutes later, the then 21-year-old slipped into the yellow jersey for the first time – the following day he was celebrated as the winner of the tour on the triumphant drive to Paris. It had been an epic Slovenian duel that late summer day in the southern Vosges. Now the tour entourage is returning there – under different signs.
Unlike in 2020, the seven-kilometer climb to the “plank of the beautiful girls” is not the last, but the first mountain finish on the Tour of France. In addition, it is not contested as a time trial. And most recently, Tadej Pogacar has gone from challenger to dominator of the tour.
After his undisputed overall victory last year, the 23-year-old exceptional talent has so far lived up to his role as the top favorite in 2022. In the fifth stage from Lille to Arenberg, which was characterized by cobblestone passages, he drove dominantly and already distanced some competitors: “It was a really good day for us, even if it was very hard,” said a satisfied Pogacar.
Severe setback for Roglic
Roglic, on the other hand, suffered a severe setback in the fight for his first tour win when he fell heavily on the fifth stage. The 32-year-old sat in a spectator’s chair, dislocated his dislocated shoulder himself, continued to torment and lost over two minutes to Pogacar.
His biggest competitor should therefore no longer be his own compatriot, but Roglic’s teammate at Jumbo-Visma: Jonas Vingegaard is probably the most promising yellow candidate in the extremely strong Dutch racing team. “I’m dying to do even better than last year,” said the Dane before the start of the tour. Last year’s surprise second-place finisher survived the cobblestone chaos largely unscathed – crossing the finish line just 13 seconds behind UAE driver Pogacar.
The Planche des Belles Filles could show whether the Pogacar-Roglic duel will become the Pogacar-Vingegaard duel.