It’s been already two years since that dramatic stage 20 time attack at 2020 Tour de France. Strong leader of the race during almost three weeks, Primož Roglič, 30 years old at the time, taking part to his fourth Tour de France, was about to add the greatest cyclist race in history to his trophy room. Behind him, Tadej Pogačar, 22 years old, also Slovenian and already THE next cyclism superstar. Coming into the penultimate stage, a 36.2 kilometers time trial, no one really thought Pogačar could beat Roglič and take the yellow jersey. Why ? Because Pogačar was roughly one minute behind Roglič at the overall classification and because they’re both excellent time attack riders, it would have been difficult for both of them to increase or reduce the gap. Yet, Roglič lost. Completely overwhelmed by the idea of potentially losing the lead, he let the pressure dictate his pace. The calm and all in control leader we saw during the entire race was gone. After a dramatic ending, Roglič lost the lead in favor of Pogačar. Last year in 2021, Roglič was forced to retire after being injured in a massive crash but just like in 2020, we knew he would have been among the top contenders. So, here comes 2022 and we’re now a few days away from the start of the Tour de France. After failing two times to win the race because of two huge disapointments Primož Roglič is back, still as a top contender and with once again, a huge team behind him. Roglič his currently in an amazing form as he had two strong seasons in 2021 and 2022. And personally, I think he’ll finally win the race this year. Here is why !
The best supporting cast he can have
Roglič’s team, the Jumbo-Visma is probably the best team in the world right now. This year, they’re coming with what I think is the best roster they ever brought at the Tour de France. It’s roughly the same team they had in 2020 and 2021 but some riders like Wout Van Aert, Jonas Vingegaard, Sepp Kuss and Tiesj Benoot are now experienced riders and all of them can pretend to win more than one stage. Moreover, they’re all good if not excellent climbers who will be there to help Roglič during the tough mountain stages. Van Aert or Vingegaard can pretend to win the race but regarding how young they are, I think they’ll understand that their time will come after Roglič and that for the moment, they still need to be world class lieutenants. Once again this year, the Jumbo-Visma will be a yellow army, looking for anyone who will try to take them away from the win.
Pogačar is not a surprise anymore and doesn’t have Roglič’s supporting cast
I don’t want to minimize Pogačar’s back to back wins. Rare are the riders who won two Tour de France at such a young age. But. The first time Pogačar won in 2020, nobody expected him to win and yet he did, alone, quietly following the Jumbo-Visma, patiently waiting for the right moment to attack. Roglič may have been the first to be surprised by his young Slovenian compatriot. In 2020, Pogačar genuinely used his underdog role in order to take the win in the last moments of the race. In 2021, Roglič’s retirement left Pogačar alone and everyone knew he would win the race. Basically he just had to control the pace and make no stupid mistake. However this year, things changed. Pogačar is not a surprise anymore, he’s THE favourite contender. On the other side, Roglič is determined to win, after failing two times and he has the best supporting cast arround him. Pogačar do have some good teammates, but if I had to choose, I’d take the Jumbo-Visma without a doubt. So my can question is : by being the favourite contender and by not having the best supporting cast, can he win against Roglič’s yellow army ? I’m not sure about that. In fact this is the first time we’ll see both Roglič and Pogačar fighting at “full power” for a Tour de France win and in this situation, Roglič’s supporting cast makes all the difference in my mind.
Roglič knows this might be his last occasion to win
Despite being one of the best rider in the world right now, Primož Roglič is already 32 years old. Behind him, Wout Van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard are the designated Jumbo-Visma next leaders. It’s hard to say how long they’ll accept to be Roglič’s lieutenants knowing that he’s 32 years old and that they can already pretend to achieve big wins. In fact, this reminds of the scenario we had in 2012, when Team Sky had to make choice. It was clear that Chris Froome, Bradley Wiggins’ lieutenant by the time, could have won the race this year but he received team orders that clearly sounded like “protect Bradley at all cost, give him the win this year, next year will be yours”. What I think is that Primož Roglič is roughly in the same situation as Bradley Wiggins in 2012. He knows he won’t be able to physically fight for the win for a few more years and he knows his own teammates are pushing behind him. All of this sounds like a now or never for Roglič.
He failed two times, took experience from this, has the best supporting cast, he’s physically peaking and he knows this might be the last time he’ll have an occasion to win. Will Primož Roglič finally win the Tour de France this year ? Yes, I think he will ! First elements of answer on July 1st !