Tadej Pogacar, together with two teammates, received a microphone under his nose today on the “rest day” of the World Cycling Championships. His teammates were there for bacon and beans. The Slovenian leader parried 99% of the questions.
Yet it was Jan Tratnik who caused a bit of a buzz in the zoom meeting. “We are not here with eight riders, but everyone will throw themselves 100%,” he said casually.
“Ah well, that’s right. The Slovenians are not complete”, whispered some forgetful foreign journalists to each other. Pogacar has to miss his henchmen or lightning rods Primoz Roglic, Matej Mohoric and Luka Mezgec.
Bloodletting, but not a death sentence. Pogacar also sees a tactical advantage in the numerical minority of his team.
“Belgium, France, Italy, Great Britain and the Netherlands are all 8. So the pressure to carry the race is more on them than on us. We are two less.”
“Yet I think we are here with one of the strongest blocks. We will not hide. On the contrary, we will compete for the medals with the big countries.”
“It will also just be a battle of attrition. The race is so long and difficult that one rider after another will have to drop out.”
The tactical plan of team Pogacar is clear: make the race very hard so that it becomes a hand-to-hand fight at the end. “We are going to try to put Pogacar in a position where he can fight it out in a small group,” said his teammates.