Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) on stage 15 of the Tour de France.

‘No worries’ for Pogačar who leads by over 5 minutes after stage 15

22-year-old Tadej Pogačar has a tight grip on the yellow jersey going into the final week of the Tour de France.

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Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) found himself isolated and outnumbered on stage 15 of the Tour de France, but the race leader once again defended from the front and he goes into the second rest day with a buffer of over five minutes to his nearest rival.

“Today was a really hard day, the last of [two] weeks, so we were expecting attacks,” Pogačar said after collecting his eighth yellow jersey of the 2021 Tour de France. “Ineos started to do a hard pace pretty [early], but I felt good and I was in no worries for the last climb, so I just followed the others and it was all ok.”

His team has come under some criticism for leaving their leader isolated in the mountains at this Tour, but UAE Team Emirates were well represented on the front of the peloton until the Port d’Envalira. In short, Pogačar had everything he needed.

“I knew that I felt good, the guys protected me before, I had everything,” Pogačar explained about his isolation on the biggest climb of the day. “Today for me it was most important to keep cool, to have water all the time, and I had it, so I had a good day in the end.”

The 22-year-old enters the third week 5:18 ahead of Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo) who resumed his position in second place overall after Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) dropped back down to ninth, reversing his efforts on Saturday’s stage 14. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) sits in third 5:32 down, with Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroën) and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) also all within a minute of the podium.

For Pogačar, who finished stage 15 in a group with most of the top 10 on GC, the main worry on the 191.3 km mountain stage was the heat.

I’m really happy [the gap] didn’t come down,” Pogačar said. “Today was one of the hottest days for sure but I felt great, so I’m really looking forward to next week.”

After a long and hot weekend, the young Slovenian is looking forward to the rest day before the tough final week of the Tour de France.

“I hope I can sleep so long that I will have pain from the bed!”

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