Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) has a “fear factor” as he bids to rip up cycling’s biggest race for a third straight year, according to Bradley Wiggins.
The Slovenian, 23, has claimed back-to-back yellow jerseys at the Tour de France and looks virtually unstoppable in stage races.
He warmed up for Grand Tour season with victories at the UAE Tour and Tirreno-Adriatico – with a Strade Bianche title sandwiched in between for good measure – before the first ‘blot’ on his season record at Milan-San Remo. And even then he was only fifth.
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Pogacar’s biggest threat in the race to the Champs-Elysees will again be compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma), who looked uncatchable at the 2020 Tour before a memorable collapse on the final competitive stage.
When asked if the Tour would be an all-Slovenian showdown at a Discovery event to kick off the year of cycling, Wiggins said: “It’s looking that way isn’t it?
"After the start of this season and the dominance that Tadej Pogacar has shown, he almost has gone to step up to another level again. There's a fear factor.
“I've been at some of the early-season races. We saw him attack the Strade Bianche with almost a quarter of the race left.
“There's a fear factor he's putting amongst his rivals now but his biggest rival is going to come from Primoz Roglic - his countryman. I think we're set for an all-Slovenia tour battle this year.”

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Two-time Tour champion and Eurosport expert Alberto Contador also says it is hard to look past Pogacar at the Tour.
“It’s true that if you start to think about the Tour de France, one name comes to mind, and that is Tadej Pogacar,” said Contador at the Discovery event.
“But that’s not all, we have the extremely strong duet of Primoz Roglic and [Jonas] Vingegaard, who are also both eager to win.
“Vingegaard finished second in last year’s Tour de France. They are doing well during the start of this season and then we have to mention the potential of the entire Jumbo Visma Squad, with [Wout] van Aert, who is a great rider.
“We will have to keep an eye on Ineos as well with Adam [Yates], and in general the number of solid riders they have. Let’s see if Richard [Carapaz] competes again after the Giro d’Italia.
"I think it will be an entertaining Tour de France, even if it looks like right now that Pogacar is extremely strong.”
Wiggins also backed Tao Geoghegan Hart to step up for Ineos as Egan Bernal fights back from his horror collision with a bus in January.
Geoghegan Hart produced one of the biggest upsets in cycling history to capture the Giro d’Italia title in 2020 but had a low-key campaign the following year.
“Ineos have got two previous winners in Richard Carapaz, and of course, Tao Geoghegan Hart,” said Wiggins.
“I think this is a big season for Tao to step back up to that plate after a disappointing season last year.”

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Meanwhile, Wiggins will return to screens throughout the season in his much-loved role as Brad on a Bike, which sees the 2012 Tour champion get amongst the action from the back of a motorbike while giving his inimitable assessments.
“I get very, very wrapped up in it in that moment,” continued Wiggins.
“And on a stage like the Champs-Elysees, you're coming up, you feel part of the action. It's the closest I'll get to being a bike rider since retirement and being in the heart of the peloton and really feeling like part of the race.
“I've always said I think it's a real privilege to still be able to be involved in cycling at that level and still see the old faces and your old peers that you used to race with. Some of them are retired now or are in the team cars.
“To be able to go back and do your favourite job that lots of people have to retire from - it's a real privilege and a real honour to be there and have that privileged position of bringing that coverage and insight to the viewer.”
For the first time in 2022, the Tour de France will see the best men and women compete. The men's race runs from July 1-24, before the inaugural Tour de France Femmes from July 24-31. Eurosport will be presenting both races from The Cube.

‘The racing is really on now! – Omloop hots up as Brad on a Bike returns

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