Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) believes it would be risky to still trail Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) come the Stage 20 time trial as the Tour de France begins its final week.
Vingegaard holds a 2’22” lead over two-time defending champion Pogacar heading into Tuesday’s Stage 16, a hilly 178.5km ride to Foix from Carcassone.
What follows are two mountain stages, a flat Stage 19, and an ITT for Stage 20 before the processional Stage 21 on Sunday.
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And while Pogacar claimed his first Tour de France crown in 2020 when blitzing Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic in the time trial, the 23-year-old knows a repeat in the ITT might not be enough to reel in Vingegaard.
"I think I need to reduce all of the gap until the time trial," Pogacar said. "As we saw, Jonas is really good on that trial as well.
"I know the parcours, I've done it. I've attempted the time trial twice and have a time in my mind, but I would not bet on the last time trial that I can gain, I don't know, 30 seconds or two minutes.
"So, I will try to give everything before the time trial to have as small a gap as possible. You cannot bet everything on the last TT."

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Vingegaard was eight seconds slower in the Stage 1 time trial, although the 13.2km Copenhagen circuit is some 27km shorter than the Stage 20 time trial from Lacapelle-Marival to Rocamadour.
Before that, though, the race heads for the Pyrenees, with three category 1 climbs in Wednesday’s 129.7km Stage 17 and then two hors catégorie climbs on Stage 18 – a day third-placed Geraint Thomas believes the Tour de France could be won and lost.
Pogacar added: "I'm pretty confident that my legs will be fine and that I can try an attacking race from far out and from not that far [to the finish line].
“I'll try everything. There's still three super hard days, and I hope for the best."
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