Tour de France: Tadej Pogačar riding out the stress and the crashes
'It's a bit painful but it doesn’t bother me on the bike. It’s all ok,' defending champion says after stage 2 incident.
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Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) came within a whisker of seeing his Tour de France ambitions go up in smoke on stage 2 of the race after a crash in the final three kilometers took down a number of riders and GC contenders.
The Slovenian was just behind the initial fall and skirted to the right to narrowly miss the pile-up.
He unfortunately rode into the barriers, with the main impact taken to his hands which were left bloodied and bruised. His wheels came off worse, with a double puncture but as the incident took place inside the final 3km the two-time champion was given the same time as stage winner Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).
Also read: Tour de France: Tadej Pogačar, Chris Froome, Dani Martínez, Ben O’Connor involved in late crash
Pogačar sits third on GC, eight seconds down on the yellow jersey of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) but a few seconds here or there matter little at this stage of the race.
The priority is safety and on the startline of stage 3 the white jersey was in his typical relaxed and collected frame of mind.
“It’s a bit painful but it doesn’t bother me on the bike. It’s all ok,” he told the media.
Asked about the opening few days of a grand tour, the UAE Team Emirates leader admitted that the event was a balancing act between the excitement stemming from the huge crowds in Denmark and the stress tha comes with fighting for position out on the roads.
“I enjoy it but it’s also a bit stressful, especially with what happened last year. You have the flashback memory but you just hope that nothing happens,” he said pointing to a series of major falls that took out a number of competitors last year.
Stage 3 should once again end in a bunch sprint and Pogačar is predicting an easy start followed by another tense and dramatic finale.
“Maybe the first part will be more calm but then it will be more stress like yesterday,” he said.