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PARIS: Tadej Pogacar will be the person to defeat as he targets his third consecutive Tour de France title when the race sets off on Friday (Jul 1), with the 23-year-aged Slovenian on the lookout to grow to be just one of the sport’s all-time terrific riders.

Dubbed the “Child Cannibal” for his similarities to 5-time winner Eddy “The Cannibal” Merckx, Pogacar has previously won the UAE Tour, the Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of Slovenia phase races this year as effectively as the Strade Bianche one-working day typical.

Only the Jumbo-Visma crew armada look able to dent Pogacar’s armour. The Dutch outfit has two leaders – Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic and last year’s runner-up Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark – in a crew that also offers the formidable Wout van Aert.

They will be seeking to command the race and isolate Pogacar, who has presently proven that he fears no a person on any terrain. He will have to have to present that fearlessness once again in the first handful of days when the winds in Denmark and the cobbles of northern France may possibly prove treacherous.

He could even acquire time on his main rivals on these levels ahead of the race reaches the mountains, in which he proved nearly unbeatable past yr.

“It will be absolutely be an enjoyable fight involving him and the Jumbo Visma workforce,” Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme explained to Reuters.

The Tour returns to La Planche des Belles Filles, where Pogacar snatched the general guide from Roglic in remarkable manner in a time trial on the penultimate working day of the 2020 race, when the punishing Col du Granon and L’Alpe d’Huez and its well-known 21 hairpins also await.

The two time trials, the inaugural 13.2km effort in Copenhagen and the closing 40.7km test in Rocamadour in advance of the remaining day’s procession to Paris, are not anticipated to unsettle Pogacar either.

INEOS Grenadiers, who gained seven out of eight Tour titles from 2012 before Pogacar seized electric power, will have odds with Adam Yates, Dani Martinez and Geraint Thomas in the group, but none of them independently are a match for the formidable Slovenian all-rounder.

France, in the meantime, is even now ready for its initial Tour de France winner considering the fact that Bernard Hinault in 1985, and there is very little sign that he will have a successor this calendar year.

Thibaut Pinot, who arrived agonisingly near in 2019 prior to retiring injured in the remaining 7 days, is back again to a decent degree of effectiveness, but he is not predicted to be a serious contender.

The Groupama-FDJ rider will go for stage wins and quite possibly the polka-dot jersey for the mountains classification in a very likely duel with fellow Frenchman Romain Bardet, a shock participant after he withdrew ill from the Giro d’Italia.

Environment champion Julian Alaphilippe was not picked by his Fast Phase Alpha Vinyl staff as he has only just returned to racing adhering to a freak crash in April.

Also absent from the Belgian team’s roster is Mark Cavendish, indicating the British rider will skip out on a likelihood to beat Merckx’s document of 34 Tour stage wins, possessing matched that file at past year’s race.

The race will get started less than another cloud of doping suspicions immediately after police searched the households of riders and workers of Crew Bahrain Victorious on Monday.

French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into doping allegations from Bahrain Victorious following law enforcement searched the team’s resort late in past year’s race, when they won 3 stages.

At the time, the prosecutor’s business in Marseille stated that the investigation was into “acquisition, transport, possession, import of a prohibited material or prohibited system for use by an athlete without the need of health care justification”.