Tadej Pogacar may be the runaway yellow jersey at the Tour de France but questions continue to swirl around UAE Team Emirates’ tactics. Specifically, what on earth are they?
We are used to seeing the Ineos blueprint at Grand Tours – team takes the GC lead, then ruthlessly controls the race from the front of the bunch.
But UAE have been reluctant leaders in 2021, happy to hand over marshalling duties for the early breakaway before coming to the fore later in the stage.
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It's an approach that has left Pogacar, who seized yellow on the final competitive stage in 2020 from Primoz Roglic, often isolated – even if he does seem perfectly content when it happens.
On Stage 14, UAE sat in the peloton for the first 100km during an explosive start that eventually saw a 14-strong breakaway form at the front.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) was one of the riders who was allowed up the road and finished in 11th to climb seven places in GC up to second, cutting Pogacar’s overall lead by over a minute to 4:04.
Was this the result of poor tactics from UAE or were they looking to save themselves for the bigger tests to come in the Pyrenees? Bradley Wiggins gave his views on Eurosport, while Dan Lloyd, Brian Smith and Orla Chennaoui discussed it on The Breakaway.
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'Happy to be on his own' - Pogacar not concerned about being isolated
“Yet again UAE just let the race happen for that first two hours,” said Wiggins.
“They didn’t really control it, take the initiative and really mark their presence. It allowed the race to keep firing off, attacks all the time.”
However, the 2012 Tour champion continued that regardless of UAE’s tactics, Pogacar could likely do it all on his own.
“Pogacar has got such a healthy lead,” he continued.
I think that once we get into the mountains that he has the legs to mark his dominance and put more time into these guys.
“It’s more of a battle for that podium behind, I think we will see more of a battle for the second and third places tomorrow rather than the win.”
Stage 15 sees the peloton trundle into Andorra before the race reaches its highest point at a summit finish on the late climb of the Port d’Envalira.
“He always seems to be on his own and quite happy to be on his own. I’ve been trying to figure out what their tactics are at this race,” said Lloyd on Pogacar.
“I would love to know what the team tactics are. I did feel like they weren’t put under any pressure again today and once the break went up the road no one tried anything from behind.
“Although it’s not big mountains, it’s still hard terrain where you could put some pressure on them.”
'A very interesting question...' - What are UAE's tactics at the Tour?
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