Whipped up by several hundred thousand fans, Tadej Pogacar raced through the rain-soaked urban canyons of Copenhagen and shocked the competition right at the start of the Tour de France. In the demanding individual time trial, the 23-year-old distanced himself from his biggest competitor Primoz Roglic by nine seconds and was also a second faster than last year’s second Jonas Vingegaard.
Only the surprise Belgian winner Yves Lampaert and his second-placed compatriot Wout van Aert were faster than Pogacar. “My head explodes. I came expecting top ten and now I’ve beaten the best riders in the world. I’m just a farmer’s son from Belgium. I didn’t expect that,” said Lampaert, overwhelmed by his emotions and with tears in his eyes. The best German was Lennard Kämna in 19th place.
“It was a strong performance. He didn’t take any risks. He’s a good driver in the rain. It was a good day for us,” said Pogacar’s sporting director Matxin Fernandez. The dominator himself rolled the lactate out of his legs easily on the roller and had his usual grin on his face.
The German champion Kämna showed a strong performance and was a little annoyed at the finish for having been too cautious at the beginning. “That certainly cost me a few seconds,” said the 25-year-old, who was 25 seconds slower than Lampaert. “It was a solid time trial, I can be quite satisfied. The legs were quite good, but not outstanding.”
A good hour before the first starter, heavy rain began to fall in Denmark’s capital, much earlier than predicted. All the top drivers had decided to start early because of the weather – now the conditions were almost identical for everyone. The fans didn’t care much about the Nordic weather, they lined the entire 13.2-kilometer course and stood in several rows along the road.
The first sign was set by Roglic, who made a strong impression. His Jumbo Visma teammate Vingegaard was almost the same and the duo were already there when Pogacar rolled off the starting ramp. At first it looked like Pogacar wasn’t risking much due to the wet conditions. In the meantime, the Tour winner of the past two years was five seconds behind his Slovenian compatriot Roglic.
But in the second part of the route, Pogacar turned up the heat. In the end, the cycling prodigy was even faster than Italy’s world time trial champion and top favorite Filippo Ganna. Pogacar distanced the assembled competition for overall victory. Alexander Vlasov, captain of the German team Bora-hansgrohe, lost 24 seconds. “It’s just the first day. I didn’t risk much. I preferred to be a little slower than to crash,” said the Russian.
Meanwhile, the European police authority Europol confirmed doping investigations as part of the Tour de France for the first time on Friday. A statement on Friday said that between June 27 and 30, 14 searches took place in six countries, three people were interrogated and various pieces of evidence were seized. Drivers’ and team members’ homes in Belgium, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Poland and Slovenia were searched. The public prosecutor’s office in Marseille was in charge. Although Europol did not name the Bahrain-Victorious team, the racing team itself confirmed searches on both Monday and Thursday.