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The Slovenian is slicing through the 2021 Tour de France, and appears to be en route to becoming the first winner of back-to-back yellow jerseys since Froome won three in a row in 2015-2017.
“I don’t see anyone coming close to him at the moment,” Froome said. “With the advantage he has, I do not see anyone coming close to beating him.”
Froome and Pogačar are at opposite ends of the 2021 Tour. Pogačar nurses a four-minute lead to a handful of riders who, if they cannot challenge him in the Pyrénées, will start racing for the podium.
Froome, who’s won four yellow jerseys among his seven grand tour wins, is languishing at more than two and a half hours back on GC, near the bottom of the leaderboard.
“He’s a very complete rider, time trialing and climbing, and that’s what you need to be a good GC rider, he’s got that,” Froome told reporters at the start Saturday.
“He showed a little bit on vulnerability on Ventoux,” he said. “Let’s see how he copes with this next block and the heat. The start was perfect for him, but he seems to battle a little more in the heat.”
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) July 9, 2021
Froome continues on his long road back from injury from his crash at the 2019 Critérium du Dauphiné. After moving to Israel Start-Up Nation in 2021, he’s been making progress, but arrived behind form for the start of the Tour.
On Saturday, Froome told VeloNews that a reported start in the Vuelta a España next month is not confirmed.
“The Vuelta? No, no, we’ll take things as they come,” Froome said. “Right now — survival, day by day.”
Froome said Col du Portet in stage 17 could prove decisive in the fight for the GC in this year’s Tour.
“It’s brutal. It’s a long climb,” Froome said. “It will be one of the most testing climbs in this year’s Tour, and one of the few mountaintop finishes in the Tour. Coming that late in the race, it will be somewhere the GC guys can test each and if there are any cracks, that’s where it’s going to show.”
Froome, who vows to keep working to try to return to the Tour in 2022 in top condition, said Pogačar is emerging as the next top rider in the peloton.
“I don’t know him that well, but from all accounts, he’s very relaxed and down to earth,” he said. “I think he’s got his feet on the ground. It’s good to see.”