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The Tour de France Debates: The biggest disappointment? What scenario for Mende? Can Pogacar let go of Vingegaard?

What is the biggest disappointment of the Tour so far?

Jean-Baptiste Duluc

I hesitated a lot with teams whose participation we have almost forgotten like Bahrain-Victorious or Astana Qazastan Team but I finally chose Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck). Because the expectations were much higher than around those of the two teams. Because also, Bahrain-Victorious and Astana Qazastan Team have extenuating circumstances (multiple crashes, Haig gave up, Lutsenko is affected). Which was not the case for the grandson of Raymond Poulidor. And that’s the worst part.

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He will have deceived the time of Copenhagen (5th) but, apart from that, we have never seen the Dutchman at the forefront. The first week was supposed to be cut for his qualities, he who is able to win on almost all terrains. It has not happened. On the contrary, he dragged out his sentence after returning to France. Distanced on the cobblestones (81st more than two minutes behind the leaders), unable to follow Van Aert on the Calais stage, transparent on a punchy finish from Longwy which nevertheless corresponded to him perfectly (145th at 10″24″ from Pogacar), Van der Poel never seemed able to weigh on this Tour de France.

He is unrecognizable: Van der Poel lost time at the start of the stage

Even in his support for his sprinter Jasper Philipsen, he disappointed, with short stints and far from the finish. Light years away from what he is capable of. His Giro in May had however given hope for a rise in power for July, with a first Grand Tour completed which should offer him more safety. Above all, he completely broke his legs. A year after a Tour that he had sublimated in the first week, Van der Poel never existed this time. And ended up leaving (almost) anonymously.

Laurent Vergne

I hesitated between Aleksandr Vlasov and Daniel Felipe Martinez but, on the one hand, the Russian has at least partially paid for the consequences of his fall on the road to Longwy in the first week, and he is also 10th in the general classification, which which is still not catastrophic, given the circumstances mentioned. However, nothing has filtered through on the Colombian from the INEOS team. Until the day before the arrival in the Alps, he was even in the game, in 10th place in the general classification. After the cobblestones and the Super Planche des Belles Filles, everything was going pretty well.

Daniel Martinez on the Tour de France 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Then last Sunday, in Châtel, Martinez sank. Two first category passes were enough to condemn him. On arrival, a quarter of an hour conceded on the group of favorites. The rest day did not allow him to perk up. As soon as the resumption, Tuesday, he dropped almost twelve minutes on Pogacar, Vingegaard and the others. Then it was half an hour at Granon, a quarter of an hour more at Alpe d’Huez and seven minutes at Saint-Etienne. In short, he let go of the ramp.

Now 53rd in the general classification, Daniel Felipe Martinez is THE disappointment of this Tour among those who, before the start, were announced among the contenders. This was the case of the Colombian. Moreover, during his press conference held in Copenhagen forty-eight hours before the start, Geraint Thomas made a point of specifying that, at INEOS, the leaders were Adam Yates and… Daniel Martinez and that he would be there for the support. Some lyrics age quickly and badly. Some ambitions too.

Breakaway or explanations between tenors for the victory in Mende?

Christopher Gaudot

Answering this question amounts to finding the answer to this one: who will ride behind a breakaway on the 3,500 meters of elevation gain of the day between Loire, Haute-Loire and Lozère? The start will be quick on the five kilometers of false flat descending after Saint-Etienne but the rest will allow a group, which I imagine to be large (or even very large), to break away in the Côte de Saint-Just-Malmont (7 .7 km at 3.9%) or at worst in that of Châtaignier (2.6 km at 7.3%).

The profile of the 14th stage: Thorns before the grand finale in Mende

The count of plain kilometers on this day will not exceed 30 with many unlisted climbs. The Jumbo would wear itself out riding behind a breakaway and that’s not in its interest anyway. I don’t think the UAE, in its current configuration without Bennett and Laengen and with a dormant Covid for Majka, capable of doing it and who else would benefit from hunting? Romain Bardet for the stage victory? Alexey Lutsenko or Adam Yates for the same reason? Which of these riders can hope to beat Pogacar on such a climb if he sees the bonuses within reach? None from my point of view, which will not encourage anyone to ride and therefore favor a breakaway.

Jean-Baptiste Duluc

The breakaway may well be the preferred scenario, historically, for arrivals at Mende aerodrome (4 times out of 5 on the Tour), but that has not always been the case. In 2010, it was a “favorite” who won at the top of the Côte de la Croix-Neuve with the success of Joaquim Rodriguez ahead of Alberto Contador, who then attacked the yellow jersey Andy Schleck, and Alexandre Vinokourov. The Kazakh, the last member of the breakaway, was caught in the final. I wouldn’t be surprised if we were entitled to such a scenario on the 14th stage.

I don’t necessarily see a team riding behind the breakaway specifically for the stage win, although some formations will work if they don’t have a rider up front. On the other hand, I can see a copy and paste of the Saint-Etienne stage, with a day carried out at high speed, without time-outs and with a breakaway that never takes up much space. And, in these conditions, why not see UAE Team Emirates rolling to come back to the breakaway in the final?

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) attacks Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) on the climb to Alpe d’Huez, during the 12th stage of the Tour 2022

Credit: Getty Images

The final corresponds perfectly to Pogacar, he needs to make time at Vingegaard and will not need a teammate on the climb Laurent Jalabert, just his good legs. A climber who attacks the yellow jersey in Mende: like in 2010? In any case, this is the scenario I expect tomorrow.

Will Pogacar take time off at Vingegaard on Saturday?

Laurent Vergne

If the favorites are explained and a breakaway does not go to the end, which is still a gigantic “if” given the history of arrivals in Mende, the bonuses could allow Tadej Pogacar to fill a tiny part of his handicap on Jonas Vingegaard. Otherwise, it may be complicated for the Slovenian. The Laurent Jalabert climb may suit him a little better than the Danish yellow jersey, but nothing says he will be able to succeed where he has always failed on this Tour: let go of his rival on the pedal.

Brief but (very) hard: The profile of the famous “Montée Laurent Jalabert”

Whether before or after the Granon, in yellow or white, it was only during the so-called cobblestone stage, on Wednesday of the first week, that the double defending champion took time off at Vingegaard. But the latter resisted the attacks of “Pogi” at Alpe d’Huez on Thursday and he had stood up to him at the Super Planche des Belles Filles. No doubt he will be harassed again in Mende, but he has shown that he has the backing and even more than that.

On the other hand, remember that the finish is not judged at the top of the Côte de la Croix Neuve, but 1500 meters further on. This kilometer and a half, neutral in terms of gradient (0.7%, a slight descent then a false rising flat), will not necessarily favor an attacker. Admitting that he can isolate himself on the climb, Pogacar will have to switch with a significant advantage if he wants to capitalize until the finish line. In short, it is not impossible but it is not won.

Christopher Gaudot

Yes ! I pass on the fact that it is undoubtedly necessary to hope for the suspense of the rest Tour de France, not that I confer on Mende in advance a decisive character, but if only to begin to reverse the dynamic. I bet on the fact that Tadej Pogacar tells us the truth when he says he understood what had happened to him in the Granon. You will answer me that it was not aerial in Alpe d’Huez. I would say that’s not entirely true and I even felt like Jonas Vingegaard might have flinched if he had continued his second attack for a few more seconds.

So far Tadej Pogacar has not really started up a gear. He couldn’t do it at Granon and didn’t want to do it at Longwy, La Planche or Lausanne. On those days, he simply had fun sprinting in the final, gleaning here and there always welcome bonuses. We have not yet seen the great Pogacar. Mende is, more than a good ground for Pogacar, a rather average one for Vingegaard who himself admitted to needing long passes to give his full potential. He will not be served on the Montée Laurent Jalabert and will have to be ready to suffer so as not to panic when Pogacar will, I think, win him.

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