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At the conclusions of Stage 8, Stage 9, and Stage 10 of TdF 2022, Pogačar held the lead in the general classification.

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?

Update

  • 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.
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  • 2
    Earlier downvotes must be from Pogačar (or his sporting director). Otherwise this seems like an interesting question.
    – Robert
    Commented Jul 1, 2023 at 23:41
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    I suspect that racing and strategy questions aren't as common because riding is something most of us do instead of watching someone else. Our tour specifically says "Bicycles is a question and answer site for people who ride, repair, or build bicycles." and the rest of it goes on about "real specific problems you're having" whereas armchair strategy of a race you're not actually riding in is in a grey area.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 2:54
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    By comparison, the tour over on sports.stackexchange.com says "Sports is for participants, hobbyists, and fans of all sports and forms of competitive physical activity." so hypothetically, a question about strategy might be better on Sports.SE even though its about a cycling race. It might be worth posting this on Meta.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 2:56
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    @Criggie Ah, so the simple solution is to have one of us join the TdF as a competitor, and then these tactical questions are on topic! You or me?
    – MaplePanda
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 22:36
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    @MaplePanda Hey, I could do it. I have lots of practice getting dropped. :-) Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 11:05

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