Tadej Pogacar stays on track for Giro/Tour double as Remco Evenepoel wins time trial

Remco Evenepoel celebrates
Remco Evenepoel celebratesReuters
Tadej Pogacar (25) stayed firmly on track for a Giro d'Italia/Tour de France double as he extended his lead over defending champion Jonas Vingegaard (27) and put some painful memories behind him in a thrilling individual time trial on Friday.

The Slovenian, who has thrown the first punches in the race's opening days and gained time over Dane Vingegaard in the first high mountain stage, took second place in the 25.3-km solo effort against the clock that was dominated by Remco Evenepoel.

The Belgian, the time trial world champion, won the seventh stage in 28 minutes and 52 seconds to beat Pogacar by 12 seconds.

Another Slovenian, Primoz Roglic, was third, 34 seconds off the pace, with Vingegaard in fourth place three seconds further back as the 'Big Four' showed their strength on the roads through the Burgundy vineyards.

The results kept the race wide open.

"I'm pretty happy with my performance today. I was cooked on the climb but then I regained some pace," Pogacar said.

"I'm more confident after the Giro and I see that I can be better than at the Giro. Last year I lost 1:38 on Jonas (in a time trial), today I gained 25 seconds, for me it's really good but Remco showed he was not the TT world champion by chance."

While Vingegaard might be frustrated to have lost time on Pogacar again, he started the Tour having not raced for almost three months after sustaining a collapsed lung in a crash on the Tour of the Basque Country, and might need another few days to reach his peak.

Pogacar, on the other hand, could struggle to stay at his best for another two weeks after finishing the Giro in May.

No rider has achieved the Giro/Tour double since the late Marco Pantani in 1998.

On Friday, the test was as psychological as it was physical for Pogacar, who last year was humiliated by Vingegaard in the third week's time trial before cracking in the mountains the next day.

The UAE Emirates rider, who this year can rely on a team that seems superior to Vingegaard's Visma-Lease a Bike, was ahead of his rival at all three checkpoints.

It was Evenepoel, however, who crushed the field with a skilful and powerful ride, managing to win despite suffering what appeared to be a minor mechanical issue some two kilometres from the finish line.

"I thought I was getting a flat tyre. I panicked a little bit but I only lost four, five seconds there," said Evenepoel.

"However it's a dream come true, it was a big goal for me and for the team. It's crazy, I don't think it has sunk in yet."

The 2022 Vuelta champion, who has little experience in the high mountains, is second overall, 33 seconds behind Pogacar, with Vingegaard in third place, 1:15 off the pace.

Roglic is fourth, 1:36 behind Pogacar.


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