Matej Mohoric’s spectacularly ill-judged ‘zipped lips’ victory salute in Libourne on Friday afternoon echoed Lance Armstrong’s notorious gesture of 2004 and seemed to send an icy message to observers of this Tour de France: check out, but don’t question issues.
Officers from France’s Central Business for the Combat against Environmental and General public Wellness Harm (OCLAESP) have queries about this race, of training course, which is why they searched the hotel rooms and autos of Mohoric’s Bahrain Victorious workforce in Pau on Wednesday evening.
And some riders in the peloton, it appears, have queries way too. A report in Swiss newspaper Le Temps cited 3 unnamed riders who expressed problem about “strange noises” emanating from the rear wheels of the bikes of 4 groups, such as yellow jersey Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Staff Emirates squad.
“There is a unusual sound. I can hear it when riding. It will come from the rear wheels. A odd metallic sounds, like a poorly adjusted chain. I’ve by no means read that anywhere,” said just one rider, in accordance to the report.
In the opening issue of what turned out to be a instead perfunctory article-phase push meeting on Friday evening, Pogačar was asked if he employed anything at all illegal in his bicycle.
“I really don’t know. We don’t hear any sounds,” Pogačar mentioned. “We really do not use just about anything unlawful. It is all Campagnolo supplies, Bora. I do not know what to say.”
The published push were then granted only two more issues to Pogačar, who responded glibly to an inquiry about his travel arrangements for the Tokyo Olympic Video games. The Slovenian is set to journey the highway race subsequent Saturday, just five days after he rides into Paris in yellow.
“We will go on Monday, with the plane, simply because I checked Google maps and you are not able to go by car or truck,” Pogačar mentioned. “It doesn’t locate the route, so we’ll go in the plane, of course.”
Pogačar carries a lead of some 5:45 above Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) into the penultimate stage of the Tour, a 30.8km time trial from Libourne to Saint Émilion. Very last September, he won his debut Tour by overhauling his compatriot Primož Roglič on the corresponding phase to La Planche des Belle Filles, but the 22-calendar year-aged has prolonged due to the fact divested this Tour of any suspense.
Previously winner of the stage 5 time demo in Laval, as effectively as the mountaintop finishes at the Col du Portet and Luz Ardiden in the Pyrenees, Pogačar will, on the evidence of this race to day, be favourite to notch up a fourth phase victory on Saturday afternoon.
“For tomorrow’s time trial, I will see how I snooze nowadays and how I wake up tomorrow,” Pogačar said. “I go with no anxiety, no pressure. Of program, I will do my most effective like I often do, particularly in the TTs. We will see what it will carry, but I don’t make any strain about the time trial tomorrow.”
Merckx dubs Pogacar ‘the new Cannibal’
Stage 19 set out from Mourenx, the web-site of most likely the defining feat of Merckxism from 1969, and Eddy Merckx was existing on the Tour on Friday as a guest of honour. The plan, of training course, was that he may possibly be on hand to witness Mark Cavendish overhaul his report of 34 phase wins at the Tour, but the spoils fell to the break somewhat than the sprinters, postponing Cavendish’s date with future to the Champs-Élyées on Sunday evening.
No matter, Merckx was however able to operate the rule about a rider whose authority over this Tour has previously drawn comparison with the Belgian’s own dominance throughout his sequence of 5 all round victories.
“I see in him the new Cannibal,” Merckx mentioned of Pogačar. “He has now received just one Tour and usually he will earn his 2nd.
“He is particularly powerful. I see him profitable several editions of the Tour in the coming years. If practically nothing comes about to him, he can definitely win the Tour de France additional than 5 occasions.”
Merckx later on joined Pogačar on the podium in Libourne on Friday afternoon when the Slovenian was presented with his 12th maillot jaune of the Tour. Pogačar, who will also get both equally the very best youthful rider and king of the mountains classifications in Paris on Sunday, paid out tribute to Merckx in a television interview after the ceremony.
“It is big to stand with Eddy Merckx on the podium. He is a hero in cycling. I never look at myself as a hero nonetheless, but I hope I am inspiring a lot of children to ride their bikes,” claimed Pogačar, who exhibited some of the qualities of a Tour patron on stage 19 when he shut down some early attacks in individual.
“There ended up a couple crashes and splits at the start out of the stage nowadays. It is actually not nice to begin a race like this. We then held the bunch peaceful for a little bit, but soon after the sprint we went on full assault mode. It was a pretty weird race. But then a team went absent, and the bunch turned silent once again.”