Pogačar confirms star-studded line-up with Yates, Ayuso and Almeida for Tour de France squad

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Tadej Pogačar has confirmed an incredibly strong team to challenge Jonas Vingegaard at the Tour de France. Adam Yates, Juan Ayuso, and João Almeida will ride as super domestiques for the Slovenian. Despite the potential to lead rival teams, they will support Pogačar as he aims for a historic Giro-Tour double.

UAE Team Emirates is yet to finalise their eight riders, but Pogačar shared the expected line-up for the Grand Depart in Florence on 29 June. Alongside Yates, Ayuso, and Almeida, Marc Soler, Pavel Sivakov, Tim Wellens, and Nils Politt are also named. Notably, there is no place for the USA’s Brandon McNulty, who is focused on the Olympics, or Rafał Majka, who supported Pogačar in his Giro d’Italia win.

Pogačar’s Thoughts

“We have a full star team,” Pogačar said while speaking to Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe on their *Watts Occurring* podcast. “Yates will be my right-hand man. Then Ayuso and Almeida are super-climbing domestiques. Soler and Sivakov will be the bigger climbers who might still do something on the flat. Then Nils Pollitt and Tim Wellens too. Majka will stay at home, I think he’s quite sad about this.”

Team Strength

The UAE Team Emirates line-up is strong and expected to dominate, particularly in the mountains. Adam Yates, who crashed out of the UAE Tour with a concussion, has recovered to race the Giro d’Abruzzo and the Tour de Romandie. He finished third overall in the 2023 Tour de France. Ayuso, who finished second to Vingegaard at Tirreno-Adriatico, also won Itzulia Basque Country after a major crash took out Vingegaard, Evenepoel, and Roglič.

Geraint Thomas and Pogačar both expect Vingegaard to ride the Tour de France, even though Visma-Lease a Bike has not confirmed his presence. “For me, yes, he’ll be at the start,” Pogačar said. “I think he was riding the bike quite soon after leaving the hospital, so if he’s comfortable already riding, then he can be in good shape. The thing most people are saying is that it depends if he can reach race weight, but I don’t think it will be a problem.”

Thomas agreed, “If he’s fine to push himself in training, then I think he can still be really good.”

Training and Recovery

Pogačar headed to altitude at Isola 2000 in the French Alps after a week of rest following his Giro d’Italia victory. He will stay for nearly three weeks, training and conducting final Tour reconnaissance rides with his teammates. He admitted he was tempted to dye his hair pink after winning the Giro but opted for a quiet week at home in Monaco with his fiancée, Urška Žigart, after three weeks of intense racing. The Slovenian won six stages at the Giro, beating Dani Martinez and Tom Pidcock by ten minutes.

During the podcast, Thomas admitted he was still fatigued, while Pogačar said his level of fatigue was “maybe 6 or 7 out of 10.” He elaborated, “Mentally I’m better, physically I’m a little destroyed, but it evens out a bit.”

Expectations for Rival Riders

Evenepoel and Roglič have recovered from their crash injuries, and Pogačar expects them to compete strongly, albeit with different strategies. “The motivation for Remco and Roglič is super high, I think they have good reasons to be more than 100% this year,” Pogačar said. “It is nice to see Remco in the Tour finally. When he was world champion, I told him: ‘You need to do the Tour,’ but he didn’t do it.”

“I think Remco will have the motivation to attack early in the Tour. I think Primož will just look at everybody and then he will be flying in the last days.”

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