According to his directeur sportif, Allan Peiper, reigning Tour de France champion Tadej Pogačar will have an even tougher time winning his second title next year as he will not be taken for granted by any of his rivals after this year’s display.
The route for the 2021 Tour de France was unveiled online from Paris on Sunday night with three mountain top finishes, a stage that includes two ascents of Mont Ventoux and two individual time trials the standout features of the route.
Pogačar admitted that he would have wanted more summit finishes but Peiper believes that even with more favourable terrain the Slovenian will be marked far more closely than he was in 2020 when he came from behind to take a stunning overall win on the penultimate stage.
“For sure, his rivals know who he is now, and it’s going to be harder because they won’t take him for granted,” Peiper told Cyclingnews from his home in Belgium.
“They won’t let him ride away on the Peyresourde, although I don’t know if they let him ride away or they simply couldn’t go with him this year, but anyway it’s a course on which you really need to think about your team composition and whether you go in with more climbers or a couple more rouleurs. What will cut it on the crosswind stages? You’ve got to find the right composition and then make sure that everyone is on the same page. You’ve got to cover all your bases.
“It’s a traditional route and they’ve put in two time trials this year, which they haven’t done for a long time and they’re two flat ones. With only three mountain-top finishes there are not too many opportunities for the pure climbers and there’s a lot of windy stages in the first week. There are also two intermediate stages between the Ventoux stage and the Pyrenees but those stages in the wind could really shake things up. It could mean a lot of fireworks on the mountain-top finishes for GC because when else are the GC riders going to attack?”
Pogačar’s skills and talent as a time triallist helped him net his maiden Tour win in September with the young rider nudging compatriot Primož Roglič out of the yellow jersey on the time trial stage to the summit of La Planche de Belles Filles. Although the two time trials in next year’s Tour – which add up to just under 60km – are flat Peiper still believes that his rider can hold his own against the more experienced time trial specialists. The Australian director again stressed that the opening week in Brittany could be even more important than the mountains.
“Tadej is a good time trial rider to start with. Like Primož Roglič, and like Tom Dumoulin, and if I look at the first and second split in the TT this year he can hold his own on the flat sections of a time trial. Other stages are hard, outside of the three mountain top finishes, but generally, if it’s controlled by Jumbo Visma or Ineos then the opportunities to make a difference are less, so those windy stages and those stages in Brittany could really play a role in GC.”
Pogačar’s Tour de France race programme ahead of the Tour de France will be defined during the off-season but Peiper envisages a typical path to the Tour, assuming that the majority of next year’s races go ahead.
“I’d say that he’d do a standard build-up,” Peiper told Cyclingnews.
“Now that he’s a Tour winner I don’t think we need to start looking for what he’s good at or what needs to change. Obviously, we’ll look at his trajectory and his phases of planning with the race calendar that comes up but it will be about balancing out his programme with where his form could improve.”