Matej Mohoric’s spectacularly ill-judged ‘zipped lips’ victory salute in Libourne on Friday afternoon echoed Lance Armstrong’s infamous gesture of 2004 and appeared to send out an icy message to observers of this Tour de France: observe, but do not talk to inquiries.
Officers from France’s Central Business for the Battle towards Environmental and Public Health Damage (OCLAESP) have queries about this race, of training course, which is why they searched the resort rooms and autos of Mohoric’s Bahrain Victorious group in Pau on Wednesday night.
And some riders in the peloton, it looks, have questions also. A report in Swiss newspaper Le Temps cited a few unnamed riders who expressed concern about “strange noises” emanating from the rear wheels of the bikes of four teams, which include yellow jersey Tadej Pogačar’s UAE Group Emirates squad.
“There is a odd noise. I can hear it although using. It arrives from the rear wheels. A odd metallic sound, like a poorly altered chain. I have under no circumstances read that wherever,” claimed one particular rider, in accordance to the report.
In the opening concern of what turned out to be a instead perfunctory write-up-phase press meeting on Friday evening, Pogačar was requested if he utilised something illegal in his bike.
“I do not know. We don’t hear any sound,” Pogačar reported. “We don’t use anything unlawful. It’s all Campagnolo materials, Bora. I don’t know what to say.”
The composed press ended up then granted only two additional inquiries to Pogačar, who responded glibly to an inquiry about his vacation preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Game titles. The Slovenian is established to journey the road race next Saturday, just 5 days after he rides into Paris in yellow.
“We will go on Monday, with the airplane, simply because I checked Google maps and you can not go by automobile,” Pogačar explained. “It does not come across the route, so we’ll go in the airplane, indeed.”
Pogačar carries a direct of some 5:45 around Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) into the penultimate phase of the Tour, a 30.8km time trial from Libourne to Saint Émilion. Last September, he received his debut Tour by overhauling his compatriot Primož Roglič on the corresponding stage to La Planche des Belle Filles, but the 22-12 months-aged has prolonged due to the fact divested this Tour of any suspense.
Currently winner of the stage 5 time trial in Laval, as properly as the mountaintop finishes at the Col du Portet and Luz Ardiden in the Pyrenees, Pogačar will, on the evidence of this race to date, be favourite to notch up a fourth phase victory on Saturday afternoon.
“For tomorrow’s time trial, I will see how I slumber nowadays and how I wake up tomorrow,” Pogačar mentioned. “I go with no anxiety, no force. Of course, I will do my ideal like I often do, specifically in the TTs. We will see what it will bring, but I never make any worry about the time demo tomorrow.”
Merckx dubs Pogacar ‘the new Cannibal’
Stage 19 established out from Mourenx, the website of potentially the defining feat of Merckxism from 1969, and Eddy Merckx was existing on the Tour on Friday as a guest of honour. The thought, of system, was that he could possibly be on hand to witness Mark Cavendish overhaul his record of 34 stage wins at the Tour, but the spoils fell to the break rather than the sprinters, suspending Cavendish’s day with future to the Champs-Élyées on Sunday evening.
No matter, Merckx was continue to ready to operate the rule around a rider whose authority about this Tour has now drawn comparison with the Belgian’s very own dominance all through his sequence of five in general victories.
“I see in him the new Cannibal,” Merckx claimed of Pogačar. “He has presently gained a person Tour and generally he will gain his second.
“He is exceptionally potent. I see him successful several editions of the Tour in the coming several years. If practically nothing takes place to him, he can surely acquire the Tour de France much more than five moments.”
Merckx later on joined Pogačar on the podium in Libourne on Friday afternoon when the Slovenian was introduced with his 12th maillot jaune of the Tour. Pogačar, who will also earn the two the finest youthful rider and king of the mountains classifications in Paris on Sunday, compensated tribute to Merckx in a tv interview after the ceremony.
“It is massive to stand with Eddy Merckx on the podium. He is a hero in biking. I really don’t contemplate myself as a hero however, but I hope I am inspiring tons of youngsters to journey their bikes,” reported Pogačar, who exhibited some of the features of a Tour patron on stage 19 when he shut down some early attacks in particular person.
“There were being a couple of crashes and splits at the start out of the phase nowadays. It is seriously not pleasant to start a race like this. We then stored the bunch silent for a little bit, but after the sprint we went on whole attack mode. It was a very weird race. But then a group went away, and the bunch turned tranquil yet again.”