Of the three potential GC contenders in Jumbo-Visma—Primož Roglič, Wout van Aert, and Jonas Vingegaard—only Vingegaard appears in the top ten and, as second in GC, presented a real threat to Pogačar's yellow jersey lead.
Yet all three toyed with him in Stage 11 by attacking him in turns.
These attacks appear to have drained him, enabling Vingegaard to take the GC lead during Stage 11, an advantage he maintained until the end of the race.
It's obvious that Pogačar needed to respond to Vingegaard's attacks— it's hard to catch up with a cyclist who overtakes by some gap. But why did Pogačar respond to attacks from Roglič and van Aert?
Did Pogačar (or his sporting director) make a strategic mistake by defending the stage against Roglič and van Aert, making it subsequently easy for Vingegaard to overtake him in Stage 11 by a large margin? In other words, did Pogačar sacrifice the war in an attempt to win just one battle?
- One of the best things we can do as cycling enthusiasts is to volunteer as coaches for the next generation of cyclists in our region. The best case scenario is to train a racer who wins (a stage in) the Tour de France. The worst case scenario is to have inspired new cycling enthusiasts.
- Pogačar is not a beginner (to put it mildly). With near certainty he had a very compelling reason to respond to these seemingly superfluous (to an untrained observer) attacks.
- (Responding to Criggie) Watching a sport may very well be a lazy person's substitute to practicing the game. But cycling is one of the most tedious sports to watch. What makes it tolerable is the virtual sight-seeing. And, at least in my part of the world, cycling races are ignored by all but the most dedicated cyclists. Those cyclists may learn something useful here and there (can you really sway your bike that much during a sprint, and still ride a straight line?; what are the actual rules of professional cycling?; what advantage is there to riding in teams besides the obvious drafting?; etc).
- Ultimately, there is science behind what professional cyclists do, and we as amateur riders could replicate (even a little) of what they do. We cannot say the same about professional football (aka soccer), which is for the most part an art form. It cannot be replicated by viewers, athletes and non-athletes alike.