The Moment Paris-Nice Was Won

The winning moment? It’s tempting to say when Pogačar made the belated announcement he was going to start the race. However it wasn’t so simple. Jumbo-Visma brought a strong team, Jonas Vingegaard had been winning plenty and the race started with the promise of a duel, a revenge match even. Only the contest would prove one-sided and Stage 4’s summit finish at the Camp des Loges saw Pogačar win ahead of David Gaudu while Jonas Vingegaard was further back, a hierarchy that would only become further entrenched.

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Things got off to a lively start with Pogačar attacking twice in the finale of the opening stage, his appetite for time bonuses meant even the six second offering close to the finish, a petit four of a time bonus, tempted him.

Many saw Jonas Vingegaard as the likely winner because his Jumbo-Visma team would ace the team time trial, put him in yellow with a good cushion of time and then he could defend. Yet come Tuesday’s TTT stage, the Dutch team duly won but only took 23 seconds on fifth-placed UAE Emirates. Symbolically Tadej Pogačar finished alone while Jumbo could have finished with the regulation four riders together. Yet by this point Pogačar had taken 12 seconds in time bonuses from the first two stages so Vingegaard was only 11 seconds up on the overall classification, no cushion. This was a relative win for Pogačar who kept his rival in range, plus Jumbo-Visma’s win came with its own opportunity cost, having selected heavier riders for this stage it meant fewer climbers to help in the mountains to come.

The rule change whereby teams started together but were given their own time when they crossed the line gave us plenty to talk about on a Tuesday and probably beyond as it’s likely to feature more often. Visually it lets spectators see the tactics at work far more than any long turns from strong riders, it’s possibly more egalitarian as a team able to afford seven or eight millionaires who can time trial and offer mountain support isn’t advantaged as much any more compared to a squad that has fewer of these valuable “Swiss army knives”; the team’s performance is marginally more dependent on its strongest rider rather than its fourth best.

If those 11 seconds looked insufficient for Vingegaard, it proved so at the Loge des Gardes summit finish. Surprisingly Vingegaard attacked one third of the way up the climb. Pogačar responded and the two seemed to be on a different level but they marked each other and the others were able to ride back. This allowed David Gaudu to counter. When Pogačar had to go again to fetch Gaudu – who was riding high on GC thanks his team’s solid fourth place in the team time trial – Vingegaard started to flounder once the road kicked up in the final kilometre and he’d finish the day 44 seconds down on GC.

Friday’s stage was cancelled by Storm Larisa, it wasn’t just risky to race in, the roads were blocked in places. A bike race might feel terribly important but local government officials deploying crews to reopen roads probably have other priorities.

Saturday’s summit finish stage to the Col de la Couillole revealed the precise hierarchy of the race with Pogačar winning, Gaudu able to follow him while Vingegaard was better than the rest but having to react to what Pogačar did. Tobias Foss did a huge amount of work, did this keep a lid on the attacks so that his leader wasn’t destabilised or did it suit Pogačar and Gaudu even more? Either way the stage prised open the time gaps further.

Sunday’s final stage has often seen the race turned upside down and when this hasn’t happened, it almost did. Only this time there was Hitchcock drama, it was a much more stable stage. Pogačar and his entourage were saying that because he lives in Monaco he really wanted to win on his nearby training roads in Nice, presumably his backers should be thinking of buying him holiday homes in, say, Oudenaarde and Courchevel as well. For once there no attacks on the climb to Peille because Tim Wellens, once the eternal attacker, is now a tow truck for UAE. The total lack of peripeteia was so evident that we had the four leading riders overall in the same respective positions on the Chemin Du Vinaigrier. At the finish the only position in the top-10 that changed was Jack Haig finishing tenth and while that’s solid for him, it was because Pierre Latour’s slipped to 14th place after losing ground mid-stage because of his persistent descending problems.

There was more than the overall classification. Jonas Gregaard did a great job to take the mountains jersey, attacking and taking points on every day he could except Satuday’s Stage 7. The sprints saw a mix, Tim Merlier won the opening stage to add some kindling to the heated topic of which sprinter Quickstep will take to the Tour de France; Mads Pedersen won the next day and his form is impressive ahead of the classics. Olav Kooij landed his biggest win so far and if Jumbo-Visma lost out on GC they’ll find plenty of satisfaction in his win and the team time trial, they lost to Pogačar but came out well ahead of most other teams.

The Verdict
We got the duel between Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard. Only if you scored each stage, Pogačar got the advantage on six of them, it probably would have been seven if the weather hadn’t cancelled one of the stages. We should mention the weather because the wind was all wrong, it didn’t blow enough to turn the sprints stages into spring classics; and when it did blow we got a see breeze, as in you could see trees being bent backwards like wooden limbo dancers. Paris-Nice is often one of the best races of the season, a regular highlight of the year and the weather is a factor behind the action, Mother Nature didn’t help.

The other factor is the finely balanced racing and this time there was no surprise, Pogačar’s strong performance in the team time trial and the first summit finish set the tone and he was voracious, extending his lead before taking a solo win in the yellow jersey. If this is his relaxed start to the season where he’s yet to go to altitude for training then he’s winning the mind games as well as the trophies.

For Vingegaard, it’s not the first time he’s finished second a week-long stage race in March to Tadej Pogačar given that’s exactly what happened last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico. The difference then is that he was Roglič’s understudy and today he’s the Tour champ. All the same, extrapolating his form from March to July is perilous. The challenge for Vingegaard, and everyone else, is Pogačar’s sprint, he can do it on the flat for time bonuses and when he goes at the top of a mountain pass he can not only win the stage, take the time bonus but also open up a gap of a few seconds. The lesson so far is UAE are looking stronger and more cohesive, and here they didn’t bring their Tour team for a dress rehearsal either.

David Gaudu provided the plot twist in the week, almost matching Pogačar in the two big summit finishes and even out-sprinting him for one of the intermediate time bonuses although he never looked likely to overturn the race. He’s 40-1 to 20-1 with the bookmakers for the Tour de France but that only implies the market thinks you’d have to run this summer’s Tour de France 20 times for him to win. He was fourth last July, but 13 minutes down. This week he showed more consistency – he’s been DNF in Paris-Nice twice before – but there were only two summit finishes and when Pogačar jumped on Sunday, Gaudu said he didn’t have the legs to follow but he’s much closer now. Arnaud Démare is still riding the Tour de France but Gaudu’s request for support will be ever-more tempting.

Finally this might be one of the last editions of Paris-Nice that runs at the same time as Tirreno-Adriatico with calendar reform looming for 2026, something that would change the feel of both races. The Italian race was born in part because Italians wanted a stage race as preparation ahead of Milan-Sanremo, something the French enjoyed with Paris-Nice. So while we wonder about what happens between now and July, Sanremo is much closer, literally 50km along the coast from Nice. Many eyes are rightly on Pogačar and Vingegaard but quietly the likes of Arnaud De Lie, Mads Pedersen, Søren Kragh Andersen, Fred Wright, Nils Politt and more have been putting the finishing touch on their preparation for Sanremo and beyond, just as Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe, Jasper Philpsen and others have been doing in Italy. And of course Pogačar.

63 thoughts on “The Moment Paris-Nice Was Won”

  1. The highlight of the week for me was Roglic and I didn’t see any of the action. The 6 months of enforced lay-off might be what his 33 year old body needed?

    • As a 34 year old who has recently had to take 6 month off their endurance sport, I hope I have a similar response as I work my way back!

    • No, he had decent but “modest” form (but it’s going to improve, no doubt) – relative to his potential, obviously. As also the ITT showed quite well, in a sense.
      He was greatly helped by circumstances, the mountain finish where he looked several times clearly unable to defend his advantage was “neutralised” by the impressive winds, often a headwind, which turned it into a reduced uphill sprint, then on the walls he was also struggling against rider without any huge zip like, say, Mas or Landa or Almeida (however good they can be uphill, a short wall, partly cobbled, too, is a different thing), but in this case a global lack of tactical wit through other teams served him once again his favourite setting.
      And even so, imagine that without time bonuses the race would have been a close fight between him Tao and Almeida, with the latter prevailing.
      All in all, the race was entertaining thanks to what was happening all the way through rather than for how things were ending up.
      What’s impressive, anyway, is to start with how good is Roglič in his *very first* race, and after a long stop. The rest of the top-10 all had at least 2 stage races already in their legs, at this point, barring Carthy who had “only” one more, and all the same also did the Mallorca races which aren’t a stage race but in terms of training work as such. It’s typical in Roglič – some riders are like that, a mix of sheer talent and being very good in training alone.
      On top of that, superior winning class shone quite clearly – it’s not just the killer instinct, the cold blood, the perfect pacing, the waiting game… it’s also the lack thereof in most rivals! Perhaps they felt that not much was at stake (but for riders who don’t win that much, a Tirreno can be a lot), yet what caught the eye was precisely the difference between the results with their clear hierarchy, *and* the merely physical potential of so many many athlete – all of them quite close between them, and surely not behind current Roglič. Yet unable to turn that into a shot to victory.

      • An impressive ride by Roglič who came in relaxed and finished relaxed, but won the race. He was also helped by his rivals who, to borrow a phrase from L’Equipe, were “driving the hearses to their own funeral”, by seeming to do so much work at times for him. His presence at the Giro should make things very interesting.

      • I have the impression that Roglic might be one of the few cyclists who is able to suffer as much in training than in races. Froome maybe had this too.

  2. [Fan alarm] – I’d really love if Pogačar could have a shot at that Sanremo win… such an absurd race!

    So many can win it, and sometimes it can mean close to nothing in the grand scheme of things (well, it happens with Worlds, even!), yet it means so much in some peculiar cases, it can change the whole “flavour” of a palmarés.

    For Cipollini, Petacchi or Cavendish it was absolutely *necessary*, close to an obsession, especially for the Italian athletes of course. And they all made it only once!
    OTOH, Sagan, Boonen, Gilbert – and even Valverde in a less compelling way – not being able to grab one is nearly as shocking as Sean Kelly or De Vlaeminck (to go on with a recent topic) not having ever got a single road world championship [hyperbole alarm 😉 ]
    Their whole palmarés would feel greatly different with just one win in Sanremo, as Nibali’s (who didn’t got his by pure chance, having a previous podium and top-ten, despite his lack of punch and sprint).

    …just imagine that, for now, it’s the * one and only* Monument both for Alaphilippe (in his case, and quite surprisingly, it’s also where he collected more podia, among Monuments!) and Wout Van Aert, respectively in 19 and 13 which they’ve raced to present day.

    • Of course, I’m aware it’s close to impossible. Nobody would leave Pogačar the margin they left Nibali, nor would he descend as fast (although he’s a good descender), neither could Pogačar simply destroy the rest on the Poggio as on Eze. The only one I can foresee collaborating with him in case a small group jumps away is Van Aert – how to oversprint him, then?
      … needs it be a Cipressa, then? In 2026 it’s going to be 30 years since Colombo’s 😛

      • Last year I didn’t understand why UAE didn’t go full gas on the Cipressa to make it as hard as possible. Maybe this year, they should be better and Pogacar knows the race better too, and understood his kick wasn’t enough alone to win this race ?

      • In response to gabriele, Pogacar did actually outsprint Van Aert in the Olympics road race, though obviously that was a very different parcours to MSR and it will be raced completely differently.

      • It is going to be interesting indeed. Poggio probably isn’t steep enough for Pogacar to lose the rest, but who knows. Perhaps a hard pace setting by the team from very far out will do the trick.
        We may also get an inofficial road downhill World Championship match between Pidcock and Mohoric, which would make for interesting viewing too.

    • The beauty of Milano-Sanremo is that if the Poggio was just that little bit steeper then Pogacar would probably win it every year. Because it isn’t it is open to just about every top level cyclist regardless of their specialism, though with a bit of weighting towards the punchy classics specialists.

      • +1 Plenty seem to think it’s dull but the race itself + the fact for me the real season starts with La Primavera have me looking forward to it well in advance. I’ll never forget jumping off the couch as Nibali won just a few years ago, then uncorking a bottle of prosecco to celebrate!

        • For me, Nibali’s win was the best in the past 10-20 years. The class with which he sat up to celebrate at the finish, with the sprinters rapidly closing in, but he didn’t even look back. He knew he had it.

    • If you had told a group of cycling fans in around 2012-2014 that Sagan would never win Milano-Sanremo I’d be doubtful if any of them would believe you. It would be interesting to go through and see in how many if Inrngs predictions he was the top favourite.

    • It’s also been an obsession for many others, and is an obsession for many today. I suspect right now that residents of the Poggio, or workers in the greenhouses on the slopes, must recognise quite a few riders because they keep going past again and again. More on this hopefully later this week.

      • This is a stupid comment to leave but I have absolutely zero interest in Milan San Remo.

        I know I’m an outlier but 6hrs of racing for 10mins of excitement is not a sporting event worthy of any attention – I’ve given up on it until it fades or changes and I doubt I’ll be the last.

        I love Italy, I love those 10mins of excitement and I love the variation of possible winners but none of that can compensate for the time wasted watching anything beyond the last 15km. Other races have varied winners, and more given the current generation of multi-disciplinarians, other races are beautiful, other races even now open the seasons classics. MSR has to update or be forgotten in my probably stupid and always humble opinion.

        • Hi Dave, let me give you a little precious insider local Sanremo hint :-P… you *don’t need* to watch the whole race. You’d better not, even (yes I know you know, just joking and taking advantage of the occasion).
          If you like sceneries, jump in for the Turchino, but don’t sit watching under any circumstances, rather do something else in the while.
          If you’re a tactics freak maybe have a first look at the Capi – from then on it’s less than a football match, often less boring, and you still have the landscape to keep the morale up.
          If you’re a normal current cycling fan, the closing in towards the Cipressa is a good place.
          From then on it’s 45 minutes of always good cycling, at first obviously rather preparation, tactics, studying the field, watching who shifts towards the back or gets dropped, then needs to catch back with the bunch and so. Then it’s time warp and those famous 10-15 minutes full on.
          Not a bad trade, for me. Surely I myself prefer other races.
          But this is a very good one, IMHO, with its own peculiar format (if things went differently, I’d ask for a change, as in its tradition, but right now it looks like it isn’t needed).

          And a part of it all is the *huge hype* – as its frequent evaporation afterwards.
          But, hey, so many fans are dreaming right now about that Pogacar-Van Aert duel, with the likes of Alaphilippe (!) or van der Poel (!) or Mads Pedersen (!) or Girmay (!) or De Lie (!) or Démare (!) (or Philipsen, Kooji, Magnus Cort, Matthews etc.)… as a nice “contorno”.
          To me, it sounds so mouthwatering, as Roubaix or Liège not always or not necessarily are one week before – even if they end up being much better races 90% of the times.

        • Hi OldDave. If we are going to get down to the brass tacs essentially all bike races are sh1te apart from the last 15km. In fact, if you get 15k of action in a bike race I’d say you’re doing well. Sanremo might just be about the last 15k but those 15 are the best of the whole year. Your argument is a bit like saying you’d rather have a pint of water than a glass of scotch because it takes longer to drink and is cheaper. I.e. you’re missing the point entirely and heaping shame upon yourself.

        • “…time wasted watching anything beyond the last 15km.” makes me think you either don’t understand or don’t appreciate what bike racing is. The scenery of an often foggy trip to the base of the Passo del Turchino isn’t breathtaking like so much of Italy, but for me it’s all entertaining – which teams seem to be JRA vs others that seem to be working on/for something as the slow boil proceeds…similar to the classic “Sunday in Hell” film scheme. (I watch that each year before P-R) If you fast-forward that film to the last 15 km of the race, you miss the point IMHO. Same with MSR and most one-day races.
          But then there’s “watching” vs watching…for me that means turning the thing on as soon as it starts, but I don’t sit on the couch inert until the end, same with P-R. Cappuccino gets made and enjoyed followed by breakfast..all with an ear and one eye on the TV screen. I might even hop on my bike and go for a ride if it’s a nice day,,,but no stopping for lunch on-the-road – it’s back and back to the TV while showering and preparing some lunch. I believe this is the way many Italian cycling fans do it but Anglo-Saxons seem to think they either have to sit there inert for the whole thing or just tune-in for the finale. It’s not an either-or thing! 🙂

  3. Someone pointed out to me what the Dane’s fans want – the 2nd coming of Chris Froome. I’d say he’ll be fortunate to be the 2nd coming of Cadel Evans when it comes to his career palmares. If J/V can provide a team like they did in last year’s TdF he’s a contender…if not, he’ll get his butt kicked by Pogacar, whether UAE provides a good team or not.
    Tour 2022 IMHO was far more about relative team strength than the Slovenian vs the Dane and the Dane has yet to win anything much beyond it to date.

    • Just a small note on Cadel Evans – if you look over his career and assume it was the truth he did not dope, there’s a case to be made he was the best cyclist of his generation and if you remove all the confessed or heavily suspected dopers that leaves him a multiple Grand Tour champion and near a five time Tour De France champion… shame we’ll never know.

      • “I’d say he’ll be fortunate to be the 2nd coming of Cadel Evans.” wasn’t meant in a negative way, just more like what the guy might actually be capable of rather than being Chris Froome 2.0 which seems to be what so many wish for. As Mr. INRG noted above J-V might not have brought the best team to help him in P-N and unlike a guy like Pogacar he seems to really need one.
        Now, enough antipasti – bring on the REAL racing season…MSR!!! Can Pogacar use his current form to win La Primavera?

      • A big Cadel’s fan here, but may I say I suspect your maths are poor, even taking for granted the “confessed or heavily suspected dopers” frankly laughable assumption (as if people were doping, and doping the same way, throughout their whole career, irrespective of different conditions; and as if no other rival was to surface in an imaginary “no doping world”; and as if such a definition could be used to mark any definite line; and so on and on. But, as I said, let’s accept it for the sake of brevity).
        You can add him the 2005 TDF and the 2007 one, plus the 2009 Vuelta. That makes a 3 time TDF champion, who also got a Vuelta but never a Giro. Great, great, of course, but rather than being the greatest, things as they are (or look) today, well, essentially a transition figure between the two great multi-GT winners of your fantasy world, i.e. Sastre and Nibali.
        His Classics palmarés doesn’t improve much (if at all), either, because he gets often denied by the likes of Cunego, Bettini or Gilbert (and many others).
        And that’s going with the heaviest possible assumption. A better-built estimation probably has “fantasy Cadel” even closer to what he actually got, if any serious difference could ever be posed.
        But most fans will acknowledge that Evans’ relevance isn’t actually palmarés-related…

        • I didn’t spend that long on it tbh *laughing emoji* – I just wanted to say Cadel is better than people remember/realise outside of the uber fans…

          You’re likely correct.

          So I’ll look more closely at TDF only:
          2005 – Cadel win – 8th behind Armstrong, Basso, Ulrich, Mancebo, Vino, Levi, Rasmussen.
          2006 – No Cadel win – 5th behind Landis, Pereiro, Kloden, Sastre.
          2007 – Cadel win – 2nd behind Contador (Controversial but as AC was banned…)
          2008 – No Cadel win – 2nd behind Sastre
          2011 – Cadel win.

          Yep you’re right.

          Although – no offence Gabs but you always have a tone that seems assume everyone you’re speaking to has zero knowledge and forget we might have just fallen into the trap of over excitement!! I know people doped differently and it is not comparable blah blah blah… but thank you for taking the time to correct.

          One caveat I guess on Cadel’s greatness – is if he had won early in his career his funding/team/training might have all improved to allow him to nab more wins even though I have no idea whether he did or did not dope.

          It seems hard to truly believe than neither he nor Sastre nor Pereiro did looking back at those the beat to grab their big wins.

          • Cadel was acknowledged as a big talent very early on when he nearly won the Giro as *the very first GT* he rode, at 25, and having turned to road cycling from BTT essentially the year before (when he hadn’t ridden a full season, either, but had promptly had his good share of pro wins in minor races plus, and even more important, some top-10 in races which weren’t at all that minor like Appennino or Emilia).
            He got pro from scratch with a relatively big team, Saeco (Cipollini and Savoldelli), then went on to, well, Mapei!, Telekom/T-Mobile, Lotto…

            This might not be that apparent from PCS because he cracked and ended 14th in GC that Giro, but after he barely lost anything against the strongest rivals in the Corvara tappone, he found himself in pink with just some sprints, an ITT (supposedly favourable to him) and just a further mountain stage (not in this order) ahead of him, so people were seeing him already as a potential winner – only he cracked on Passo Coe (then lost more time in the ITT). He barely could get to the finish, that day in Folgaria, people were pushing him uphill. However, he had full support by strong gregari like Noé or Cioni – while Savoldelli, who finally won, was riding for the small Alexia team, with the closest of his temmates more than 20 minutes back!
            He then landed to the biggest possible team or so, Telekom/T-Mobile but had several issues who prevented him for performing, while they tried essentially to make of him a road racer competing a lot (probably too much) in smaller races and using the Vuelta as a learning terrain.
            Lotto was also a more than decent team, but indeed they couldn’t support him as much. Rather than not believing in his chances or whatever it was more an issue of tradition and specialisation, they were all about Classics and stage hunters. Yet they had him as the captain in stage races, plus went on trying to grant support in following years with the likes of Horner, Van Huffel, Cioni, Popovych… Of course, that wasn’t probably enough, but it was about team culture rather lack of resources or doubting his potential. And Cadel evidently found himself satisfied with the overall situation.

            Re: Sastre, well, I guess we remember the famous anecdote about Lance declaring that he eventually decided to come back when he saw that Sastre was winning, like “if that’s the level, that petty gregario guy winning, well, I can still have my say”. Very unpleasant he said that more or less publicly. But, unfortunately for Lance, when we read those same words afterwards, now, they sound a very different way…
            Sastre was the brother-in-law of El Chava Jímenez, whom he remembered when he won the TDF, one of the greatest climbers of the late 90s, and probably among the greatest ever in this speciality – died in 2003 after serious addiction problems. Curiously, Sastre always underlined that they were so very different, and yet they really had a brother-like human bound. It’s very interesting how Sastre always spoke about, say, Manolo Saíz.

  4. As a follower since the days of Merckx, Pogacar’s win rate this season has been astonishing: seven stage or one day UCI race wins and two GCs. He’s listed to ride M-SR, E3, Flanders, Amstel, La Flèche and LBL before a short break. That sounds a long time to hold form but, if he can keep it going, comparisons with Eddy will start to be justified. Kelly, Moser, Indurain and Hinault have been brilliant in the meantime but never across such a range. And it’s not just the win rate, it’s also the style – Eddy style!

      • I often wonder if people were bored in the Merckx era, as he just won so often that the suspense levels must have been low. Pogačar so far seems to win a lot but it’s still exciting to watch, he doesn’t snipe and poach wins, he goes and grabs them. Not that Merckx did either.

        We’ll see how long he can keep it up, his jump is impressive but it won’t be there forever.

        • It will be also very interesting to see Remco vs Pogacar in a big race, and both in top form. I really wonder what could happen, they really seem both well above the rest.

          • I agree, though I think Pogačar is a cut above. Evenepoel is a slightly better ITT rider, and maybe a slightly better one-day racer, but that’s clearly debatable. I think there’s a reason Remco has generally avoided going toe-to-toe with the Slovenian and has been doing a more measured ramping up in the difficulty of his racing program.

          • Evenepoel is unproven against the top climbers on big climbs in a grand tour. He could be left floundering, minutes back. But I agree, I long to see what happens.

        • Baronchelli, De Vlaeminck, Ocaña, Tarangu, Maertens et al. made sure that it could be so often nail-biting, while the likes of Gimondi and Thevenet kept a consistently high benchmark which granted that Eddy had to ride seriously, strong and committed under most circumstances, besides his own cannible attitude.

          • The riders you name were either GT or classics riders with limited crossover (De Vlaeminck and Maertens for the classics, and Ocana, Gimondi and Thevenet for the GTs). Merckx rode the lot, and almost always to win.

            For a comparison of Pogi’s brilliant performances and that of Merckx, just take the PCS database all-time points where Pogi has reached around 3400 during each of the last two seasons. Merckx reached well over 5000 for six consecutive seasons. To match that Pogi would need to ride almost all the classics and two GTs, and maintain his current win rate!

          • @DJW As you may have noticed, that was a reply to inrng re: people possibly getting bored and low suspense. Of course, that didn’t happen because of different factors, not because you had “many Merckx” (which would have probably meant their real level was generally lower)

          • @DJW Besides, I find it funny the definition of “limited crossover” for Gimondi, who won Sanremo, Roubaix, Lombardia (twice), the Worlds plus some *twenty* or so other Classics, among which 2x Paris-Bruxelles (then sort of a true 6th Monument for length, history and competition, both before and after the 1967-1972 stop due to… traffic! Gimondi won it both in the 60s against Van Looy!, Godefroot, Planckaert and in the 70s when Maertens, Kuiper, Raas were added to the mix; also Merckx and De Vlaeminck obviously used to race it).
            Not to speak of Bernocchi, Agostoni (precisely against Eddy, Freddy and Roger), Matteotti, Lazio, Wallonie, Piemonte, Appennino…
            His Classics palmarés is comparable to Sagan’s, if not better, and while we might agree that Sagan might or should have won more, it sounds peculiar to match it through some “limited crossover” ^__^

        • Yes, how long can Pog keep it up? I’m enjoying what he’s doing, but part of me is also measuring how he’ll fit into the pantheon of all-time greats. He’s already remarkable in that he’s the only rider since Merckx to have achieved such dominance at a very early age and to have continued consistently dominating over several years. What’s amazing is that to actually have a Merckx-level career Pogačar only needs to keep up this level of winning for the rest of this season and then seven more seasons! Looking at it that way seems inconceivable to me, and reinforces what a singular athlete and competitor Merckx was.

          • Apples to apples is not really possible of course. I am not as much ofan historian as some frequent flyers here, but I would think that in Merckx’ day, the field wasn’t as broad as it is now, and specialization wasn’t as common.
            In a smaller field there is a higher probability of outliers. The comparison will always be flawed.

    • I think that underrates Hinault, multiple winner of all 3 GTs, with some morale-breaking performances for the ages not just in the GTs but in races such as at Paris-Roubaix, Sallanches, and LBL. Pogacar doesn’t race enough to match Merckx’s numbers but he might match or surpass Hinault’s. Especially since while anything can happen of course, at 24 there’s a good chance it’ll be a couple of years before we see peak Pog.

    • Agreed that Pogacar races “Eddy-style” but PCS shows Merckx’s long term win rate as double that of Pogacar. I.e. wins race day or per km raced. No comparison, really. And likely due to the relative lack of competition for Eddy. As a fan of both, I think the Pog era is already a lot more exciting than the Eddy era ever was as it is in a time with much greater parity. I did find David DeLaCruz’s gesticulations interesting on P-N Stage 8, indicative of the peloton’s annoyance at Pog racing Eddy-style, which could get interesting if the peloton starts racing “against” him more?

  5. PN seems to point to JV’s lack of top form more than Pog’s great form if Gaudu could hang with him. Just could be repeat of last year so far.

    • I think that’s right. It’s easy to point to Vingegaard’s team at the Tour last year as the best around, but he was also immensely strong himself. Whether he can repeat that I don’t know, but he was similarly unimpressive early last season.

    • I didn’t think it looked like Pogi was seriously trying to ditch Gaudu except on the Eze, and when sprinting for the stages, where he did. There was a lot of pacing, looking back etc going on.

  6. The hyperbole of some (not on this blog) to what is a race in March…
    This says very little to nothing about Vingegaard’s form come July, nor Pogacar’s.
    While L’Équipe goes with this:
    “David Gaudu: a podium that changes everything”.

    • Some people are seeing a different Gaudu this year. Some think they are seeing the same Gaudu. Which take turns out to be more accurate will be interesting to revisit at the end of the year.

      • Gaudu seems to have been a long term project for his team. We’re so used to young riders being 100% from the start but he’s been spared the big races first, then the burden of leadership. It’s only more recently that he’s gradually had this pressure put on him and been taught how to be at the head of a team.

        I hope the Démare Discord doesn’t put a lid on his Twitch livestreams, it’s been a good insight into how he sees things, and because it was public he didn’t roast any team mates but it was still unfiltered and authentic.

  7. Counterpoint: Pogs hasn’t really learned his lesson from TdF last year, and is still possibly vulnerable (if one could call it that) to tiring himself out by sprinting for every bonus, trying to cover all the attacks himself, etc. Last year, it all seemed very good for him, until suddenly it didn’t. This also makes me wonder whether Jumbo will consider sending both Roglic and Vingegaard to the Tour instead of Rog to the Giro, so they can deploy the 1-2 on Pogs again.

    • Fair enough IF all you care about is winning LeTour. Thank gawd Pogacar’s not like that, nor were Merckx, Gimondi, Coppi, Nibali and other great champions. I want the sport to have less of the mindset of the Froome’s and BigTex’ of the peloton, not more, but that’s just my opinion.
      If all Pogacar can do in 2023 is be an exciting protagonist at Le Grand Boucle, that’s OK with me as long as he’s also at the start line of Monuments as well, rather than hiding out at some remote altitude training camp and/or calling a halt to his racing season in August.

    • Agree on needing a Jumbo Visma 1-2, and it was this that first allowed Vingegaard to shine on Ventoux then go on to win the following year’s Tour.
      However it’s all about scheduling and JV are not alone in realising maybe their best chance of winning is to focus on races Pogacar is not starting.
      Plus JV has a depth of talent and is still a far better team than UAE. Wout Van Aert is a talent for the ages and it would be great to give him a programme where he can he all about freelancing rather than being megadomestique.
      Nor should we forget their Hungarian champion who must win in the upcoming Volta Catalunya. Attila surely must score a win in stage two’s mountaintop finish – / it’s got his name on it / 😉

      • Roglic had gone home before Vingegaard shone on Ventoux in 2021 – Ineos in fact rode hard on the second ascent of Ventoux which caused Pogacar problems.

  8. Thank you for another great post. One very minor point is that odds of 20/1 would mean one expected win every 21 events not every 20.

    • Except even this is an over simplification as it doesn’t take into account that real world odds are normally a Dutch Book, so that the set of implied probabilities add up to more than 1.

      As an example – one site is currently offering the odds: Pogacar 1/1, Vingegaard 13/8, Evenepoel 6/1. The implied probabilities of these three riders alone (approx. 0.5, 0.38, 0.14) adds up to 1.02.

      The implied probabilities for the top 10 add up to 1.36 – and that’s well before you get to the tail of riders with odds of 1/100, all the way up to 1/500. Taking a conservative estimate that tail gets you to implied odds that sum to >1.75. Taking that into account odds of 20/1 are more like 1 in 35+ TdFs.

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