Iñigo San Millán, director of performance at UAE Team Emirates and coach of Tadej Pogacar, has said that rather than the Slovenian being particularly strong at this year’s Tour de France, it’s more a function of other riders performing below expectations.
“It is frustrating people thinking that Tadej has been extra-galactical this year when he has never achieved the numbers he had last year,” Dr. San Millán said. “He hasn’t achieved those numbers because he has never been challenged. So he’s going slower than last year; the reality is the rest have nothing. Absolutely nothing. They can’t even attack. Within one minute, you have six, seven riders who can’t even attack each other. It is very strange.”
“My humble opinion is that the pace of all the stage races, the majority of all of the one-week stage races this year, has been faster than the first week of the Tour de France. The Tour de France in fact has been one of the slowest first weeks, in comparison to the one-week stage races. And yet people are dead. That is the first thing. But the second thing is that people have made a lot of mistakes in their preparation at altitude training camps for the Tour. As they did already last year, like Ineos and Jumbo. Well, I would imagine that’s the case. Obviously Ineos messed up last year, like they did this year. And Jumbo didn’t work out last year, and it is not working this year either.”
“I have Tadej’s data and, again, he has not achieved the numbers he had last year because he has never, absolutely never, been challenged [in this Tour]. When you are not challenged and you put minutes into the rest, you are not going to go and die for it,” Dr. San Millán said. “You only die [go flat out] when you are challenged and then you give your best numbers. Now, you only go at your threshold or a little bit above it. That is it.”
“Also, I have the reference for the speed of other riders. For example, take the Col de Colombière the other day [on stage 8]. The immediate group behind Pogacar was Carapaz, Vingegaard, Mas, Uran, and we had there [Davide] Formolo,” he added. “So, looking at Formolo’s file, I know how well how fast they went. It is really, really low.”
“These guys, they are normally way faster than this,” he added. “Way faster. I mean, they can’t go over 6 watts per kilogram [here]. And yet this is something that they do in any other race. Whether it is Tirreno, Basque Country, Paris-Nice, Catalunya, they go at 6.2, 6.3, 6.4. Even 6.5. And now in the Tour, they can’t even go up to 6 watts per kilo.”
“The stage to Tignes was ridiculous. When he [Pogacar] attacked, he attacked a little bit below his threshold, and he even decreased the pace significantly in the last one and a half kilometers. He was like, ‘f**k, man, what is going on here? These guys can’t even follow me.’
“He is not extra-galactical, because nobody is pushing him. He is not even putting out the numbers he did last year. And the rest, they are a shadow of what they have been.”