Ehe Pinteño, who is part of the team of cycling experts at Eurosport that broadcasts this new edition of the Tour de France and that has the best instant coverage and the best analysis, caters to MARK before the start of the gala round.
How do you see Enric Mas and the rest of the Spaniards?
It is true that this year we do not have too many runners, which in comparison to 2007, for example, is noticeable because among the top ten classified there were 5 or 6 Spaniards. I see Enric with options to be in that top 10, he has the potential to achieve it.
Who do you think can challenge Pogacar and Roglic for the overall jersey this year?
I think Vingegaard should also be included after his second place last year. He is a rider who gave Pogacar problems and we know that he is very strong as we saw in Dauphiné.
What stages do you think will be key?
The Tour de France is demanding from the first stage because important differences are already generated. The weather in Denmark is also not the usual for any Tour event and something will influence it, as well as the pavé itself in the fifth stage. The first nine stages will be to survive and keep distances.
The Bora-Hansgrohe team surprised some experts by winning the Giro. What can we expect from them and their leader Alex Vlasov on the Tour?
After the season he’s doing I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone, but I do think it’s the first Tour de France he’ll be able to take on with guarantees. It’s a good time to see how far Vlasov can go.
Which British rider has the best chance of success on the Tour?
I would say that Thomas or Adam Yates are the Britons who have the best chance of succeeding on the Tour. Both are in the top 10 group and with great options, but we already know that many things can happen that have an influence.
Does Geraint Thomas’ victory at the Tour de Suisse improve his chances of success on the Tour?
After a victory like this you receive a great amount of confidence that favors your performance and motivates you to continue achieving results. It is a very positive thing for Thomas, but it is not definitive.
Cavendish will not finally be there, is he the best sprinter in history?
As a sprinter, if he is not the best in history, he would be tied with Cipollini, because after so many years and his professional career, I think he has more than enough merit to be at the top.
What do you think of Chris Froome’s chances?
Froome has plenty of experience and knows what it’s like to dominate a race like the Tour de France. After all, he is the first who does not think about winning the general classification but about having moments of prominence such as some stage that he wants to aspire to.
Which of your former contenders does Tadej Pogacar remind you of? Froome, Nibali, Wiggins, Armstrong or someone else from the past?
Tadej is different from all of them, he doesn’t remind me of any of those big names because Pogacar himself has created his own figure. Tadej has his own style of racing and despite how young he is he is already among the best.
Will it be a UAE vs. Jumbo Visma or will there be room for other teams?
The responsibility will be for both teams, I don’t see room for it to be otherwise. In the Tour de France many things happen and we will see cyclists that will surprise us, but normally these two teams dominate the race.
Could Caruso be a podium contender?
He is a great cyclist and has many qualities and if he has freedom he can do great things, but I don’t think he can get on the podium.
What is the main theme of this year’s Tour? What are you looking forward to the most from this year’s Tour or what will you notice the most?
This year’s edition will be a lot of fun starting with those first nine stages that are going to be very demanding to begin with. Every day will be an adventure and that will show in the race and the pace that the cyclists maintain.
How long can Tadej Pogaar’s dominance continue? Is he the best cyclist today? What exactly is he so good at?
Right now he is the cyclist that everyone wants to beat in the Tour de France. It is true that we have seen few duels between Tadej, Roglic and Vingegaard himself and we have to think that we are seeing athletes who rise quickly from youth to professional categories and compete with guarantees in the best races. There’s no telling how long Tadej’s dominance will last because he’s been through all the big names. Pogacar stands out for competing in an extraordinary way in the time trial and also doing very well in the mountains. He is someone very complete and he shows it in every race.
One of the most interesting cycling reasons of these months is the weak form of Peter Sagan. Will it affect the Tour de France as a competition?
Peter got a victory in Switzerland and will be motivated to make a good participation in this Tour de France. Sagan is very media and if he is not at 100% of his level, everything is magnified.
How do you perceive your struggle in recent months? Are we seeing the end of the Peter Sagan era?
I don’t think it’s the end of his professional career. Sport is not pure mathematics and not every day your feeling is the same nor can you compete in the same way. This kind of thing was also said of Cavendish and he proved the opposite. With Sagan I would be prudent before withdrawing him.
What do you like the most about the Tour de France? What makes it special compared to the Giro and Vuelta?
It’s the race of races. It is the most important and the one that has the most repercussion. When you compete professionally you see that it is the number 1 goal of all the teams. The pressure of the Tour is something incomparable.
Do you sometimes feel that there is too much pressure and attention in the Tour de France? Was it annoying to you sometimes? How did you get over it?
In my case I took it naturally even knowing that it is the most important race in the world. The pressure is evident and more with victory options, but fortunately I managed it naturally.”
Wout van Aert will focus on winning the green jersey classification. Will this affect the strength of Team Jumbo-Visma in the battle for the yellow jersey? Does it represent an additional obstacle for the team leader?
We’ll see what Wout’s goal is and maybe it’s compatible to compete for both goals, but it’s also important how the first days of competition unfold to find out what priorities the team chooses.
Who could give the surprise in the general classification?
Vlaosv is the one I can think of who can surprise the top 3.
You won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009. What do you feel when you remember those historic days and what it cost you to achieve it?
I remember the tension and responsibility of achieving victory. When you are at the top of the podium you feel that satisfaction of having achieved your goal and you enjoy it days later when you are calmly with your people.
He has won all three Grand Tours at least twice: the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España. Which of those wins was the most special to you?
They are all special for one thing or another. More than 20 days trying to solve all kinds of unforeseen events and maintain your level and achieve victory.
His rivalry with Lance Armstrong continues to be much talked about. Are there good memories of that rivalry?
The rivalry is understandable I think, we both wanted to win the Tour de France and we were in the same team. It’s normal stuff when two champions are looking for the same target.
Last year your brother revealed that you were about to come out of retirement in 2020. What made you think about it and what happened?
I have always experienced cycling as something passionate and that I continue to enjoy. I retired at a good time with good feelings and the pandemic offered me a lot of free time that I used to train without any goal, but the numbers made me consider that possibility. I thought about it a lot with my surroundings and finally decided that it was a better option to leave things as they were.
What are the biggest challenges for this edition of the Tour de France?
To have a good state of form from the beginning and above all to have a powerful team to face the first week of competition. The mountain stages will be tough and you will have to be at your best to have a good result.
This year we will see the women’s edition.
It is great news because more and more teams are betting on women’s cycling and it is something very beautiful. Organizers, teams and sponsors are betting on women’s cycling and I hope it continues to grow.
What other sports do you follow and who were your childhood sports heroes?
I like many sports such as football, tennis, basketball, motorcycling, Formula 1…As references I prefer Armstrong and Pantani.
Tadej Pogacar has already won the Tour of the Emirates, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of Slovenia this year. Is he favorite for this Tour?
He is a favorite not only because of his latest wins but also because he has won the last two editions of the Tour de France because that gives you a plus of experience and hierarchy.
Will Roglic and Jumbo be Pogacar’s main rivals? How can you beat someone from the same country who knows you as well as Pogacar and Roglic?
It will be a very important duel because they also know each other well and there other teams will try to benefit from this rivalry. What’s more, the duel will actually be Pogacar vs. Jumbo because not only Roglic will be pending.
Rúben Guerreiro recently won the Mont Ventoux Challenge solo with one of the fastest climbs of this century. He had already won at Roccaraso in the 2020 Giro. Do you think he is a strong candidate for a mountain stage?
Without a doubt, Guerreiro has a lot of quality and has grown a lot in recent years. The mountain is his territory and he will surely get…
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