Tadeg Pogacar will be aiming for his third Tour de France victory in as many years. File
On Friday (July 1), the world’s greatest riders will take to the saddle for Stage 1 of the 21 Stage race.
A 13.2km time trial will get the 109th edition of the Tour De France underway, before the riders eventually roll into the mountains and push their bodies and physical capabilities to the absolute limit.
The team to beat are UAE Team Emirates. The man to beat is Tadej Pogacar. The Slovenian superstar is gunning for his third Tour De France victory in as many years, a feat that has only been matched by cycling greats such as Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Miguel Indurain, and Chris Froome.
As Pogacar’s focus will be cementing himself amongst cycling immortality, he will be ably supported by a UAE Team Emirates group hot from their incredible win in the Tour of Slovenia. After winning 4 of the 5 stages in the race, there can be no doubt that the morale is high within the camp ahead of ‘Le Grand Boucles’.
The Tour De France leaves no stone unturned in its quest for determining the victor — with wind, cobbles, sprints, echelons, big climbs, small climbs, and time trials all awaiting the riders and their support teams.
Ever famed for its mind-boggling climbs and ascents, the Tour De France enters the Alps at the beginning of week two.
This is earmarked as an incredibly exciting period of the race, as we will start to see the formation of the General Classification (GC), as well as the Polka Dot Jersey (climbers jersey) starting to become hotly contested.
As the race enters week 3, the riders will see themselves tackling the Pyrenees Mountain range.
This phase of the race will be the most challenging and testing for the riders, as the mountains come thick and fast with very little margin for error. Cycling fans around the world will be tuning in specifically to stages 16 through 18, renowned for their difficulty and brutality as the cyclists exert every last ounce of energy and channel it up the unforgiving mountain range.
One stage in particular to pay close attention to is stage 12; Briancon to Alpe D'huez, which happens to also fall on Bastille Day in France. One can be sure to see French riders battling fiercely in the hope of securing a memorable and widely celebrated victory on France’s national day.
Pogacar said: “As a team, we are focused, and we are ready. We are really close as a group and have complete confidence in each other’s abilities.
“Our preparation has been excellent and I’m feeling in really good condition, I can’t wait to get started.”
Team CEO, Mauro Gianetti said: “When we first started this team in 2017, we had an ambitious five-year plan to win the Tour de France and cement ourselves as one of the top teams on the World Tour. We stand here today having won it twice already and in a good position to be competitive once again – which is a fantastic feat.”
A powerful bunch was still together as the 181-kilometre fourth stage slogged up Jebel Jais, the highest point in the Emirates.
UAE Team Emirates leader Pogacar effectively retained the "Race of the Two Seas" run between the Mediterranean and the Adriatic when he romped away from his rivals during stage six on Saturday.
Lotto rider Van Gils, 22, sealed victory after winning Friday's fourth stage, finishing 20th on the final day after the 138km run which suited the sprinters.
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