Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) believes current doping controls are enough to rid modern cycling of longstanding doping suspicions.
Pogacar sits atop the general classification at the Tour de France as the comfortable favourite going into the first rest day. With a lead of more than five minutes over every rider except Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen Team), the Slovenian will have to suffer an enormous misfortune to lose out in the 2021 edition of the Tour de France.
Pogacar has been asked on a couple of occasions if his huge time advantage over his rivals would raise suspicions over the state of doping in cycling, but the 22-year-old suggested otherwise.
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“I think we have many controls to prove them wrong,” Pogacar claimed..
“I know, for example, that yesterday, I had three controls in one day – two before the stage and one after. So I think that gives enough weight to prove them wrong.”
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One mitigating factor in Pogacar’s favour is the striking reduction in the riders who might normally have been pushing him at the top of the GC.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) withdrew over the weekend and 2018 champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) is already focusing on the Olympics after early struggles. Chris Froome is yet to recover from his 2019 crash, and Egan Bernal has sat out the Tour as he recovers from his Giro d’Italia exploits leaving Ineos without their usual strong challenge.
“I’m pretty happy with how my shape is. I did expect something like this for my numbers,” continued Pogacar.
“But this Tour has been really difficult from the start with a lot of crashes and for sure it affected a lot of riders. That also cost them a lot of energy, probably. I was almost untouched, I just had one crash, really small, so it didn’t affect me.”
“Really one of the biggest motivations was that, to show it was not a one-time thing to win the Tour just based on one time trial.
“I wanted to be good again this year. All the race I’m motivated to prove myself and show the world what I can do.”
Pogacar turned his attention to his chances of success at Mont Ventoux, which will be ascended twice on Stage 11.
“It’s a pretty historical climb. I know some of the history, I don’t know it all,” he said.
“Yeah, it’s a really nice climb. I did it also for a recon. And for sure I want to be good on Mont Ventoux. But I don’t really drive myself from the historical standpoint on the Mont Ventoux stage.”
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