Alberto Contador: Roglic, Pogacar favourites for Tour de France title

Two-time winner Alberto Contador predicts an evenly matched Tour de France this year but picks Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar as his favourites for the yellow jersey.

Slovenia's Primoz Roglic trains in Landerneau, France, on Friday. - REUTERS

Two-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has picked World No. 1 Primoz Roglic and defending champion Tadej Pogacar as favourites for the 108th edition of the most prestigious bicycle race which will get underway today.

Contador, who will be part of the broadcast team of Eurosport along with fellow Tour winner Sir Bradley Wiggins, has predicted a tough fight between Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma)and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). 

“I guess I think like most of us who love this sport. Roglic, Pogacar, and the INEOS cracks (Team Ineos) are going to fight for the podium. If I had to choose one of them to win, I think I'd say Roglic, but I don't think he'll have much of an advantage over the others because I see a very evenly matched Tour de France,” he said.

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The 21-stage Tour will see begin at Brest In Brittany, France, with the riders covering a total of 3,417 km across eight flat stages, five hill stages and six mountain stages including three summit finishes.

Two-stage time trial

If last year’s time trial battle between Pogacar and Roglic are any indication, it is expected to be tougher this year as the organisers have earmarked 58 kilometres of individual time trialling in two stages, the most since 2013. Slovenian Roglic lost to his compatriot Pogacar in the title battle despite enjoying a 57-second lead before the decisive time trial stage.

“They are two time trials that will do a lot of damage to those riders who have moments of doubt because this year's routes can tip the balance in a matter of seconds or minutes that are very difficult to recover. Geraint Thomas (Team INEOS), Roglic or Pogacar will have to be at 100 percent in these two stages in order not to lose important time in the general classification,” Contador said.

Alberto Contador (in picture) will be part of the broadcast team of Eurosport along with fellow Tour winner Sir Bradley Wiggins. - SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

Talking about the mental aspect of preparation for a month-long rigorous Tour that involves overcoming brutal climbs in difficult altitudes that has your muscles overworked and blood pumping, Contador spoke of the need to find the perfect balance. 

“It's about the combination of both parts: the perfect balance between physical training to be in optimal conditions to compete and the mental stability to face a challenge like the Tour de France. Cycling is a very tough sport, very demanding, and often very cruel. I think that if the mental aspect is well taken care of, any cyclist can bring out the best physical version of himself.”

The Tour de France will see an additional element of interest next year as the organisers have made plans for the launch of the women’s Tour de France in 2022. Contador said it is a step in the right direction. “It has taken a long time to organise but I am very happy about it now. Anything that moves forward and progress is always positive. Of course, it would have been great if this decision had been taken earlier but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is wonderful news and one that we should all celebrate for the growth of the sport.”

(The Tour de France will be live on Eurosport and Eurosport HD for the Indian audiences from June 26 to July 18 from 7:30 PM IST) 

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