Champion Pogacar given familiar support cast
June 27 2022 10:59 PM
Tadej Pogacar
Tadej Pogacar

AFP/ Paris

Tadej Pogacar will begin his bid for a third straight Tour de France title later this week alongside four of the same teammates who helped him to last year’s yellow jersey.
The Slovenian was unsurprisingly yesterday named in the UAE Team Emirates line-up for the race, which gets underway in Copenhagen on Friday.
Switzerland’s Marc Hirschi was a notable omission, but Polish climber Rafal Majka, Mikkel Bjerg, Brandon McNulty and Vegard Stake Laengen all made the cut.
New Zealander George Bennett and Spain’s Marc Soler, both signed in the off-season, are in the team, as is Italian sprinter Matteo Trentin.
“We’ve worked very hard all year as a team to prepare for this,” said the 23-year-old Pogacar.
“So far this year has been positive for the team and we hope to continue this momentum.” Pogacar is a strong favourite for the Tour after another impressive season which has seen him win the one-day Strade Bianche and two stage races.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Mark Cavendish and France’s Julian Alaphilippe have both missed out on a place in the the Quick-Step team announced yesterday.
Double world road cycling champion Alaphilippe only returned to competition on Sunday, two months after suffering multiple fractures in a heavy fall on the Liege-Bastogne-Liege race in Belgium.
Cavendish, 37, last year equalled Eddy Merckx’s Tour de France record of 34 stage wins, and had stormed to a second British road race title on Sunday. Alaphilippe, 30, has worn the race leader’s yellow jersey in the last three editions.
But the Belgian team have opted for Dutch sprint specialist Fabio Jakobsen, who has 10 wins in 2022, and will be supported by Dane Michael Morkov.
“I am disappointed,” said Alaphilippe. “I have a natural affection for the race, from my days in the yellow jersey over the past three seasons, my stage victories and many other great memories with my teammates.
“To miss another opportunity to wear my beautiful rainbow jersey in my home country is very sad for me. At the same time, I completely understand this, because I too don’t want to be at the start if I can’t be at my best level.”
Colombian Nairo Quintana, a two-time Tour runner-up and winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2016, spearheads Arkea-Samsic’s assault on the 2022 title.
Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko, who finished seventh last year, will be the main man for Astana, who will also have four Italian riders on the start line in Denmark.            Experienced Slovakian sprinter Peter Sagan, a seven-time green jersey winner, will spearhead the TotalEnergies team after recovering from Covid-19.
Meanwhile police searched the homes of riders and staff of Team Bahrain Victorious ahead of their departure for the Tour de France which starts on Friday, the cycling team said yesterday.
French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into doping allegations against Bahrain Victorious after police searched the outfit’s hotel last year. “The investigation into the members of the team, which started almost a year ago and did not yield any results, continues just before the start of the most important cycling race, the Tour de France,” the team said in a statement.
“Due to recent investigations, the team feels the timing of this investigation is aimed at intentionally damaging the team’s reputation. The house searches experienced today by members from Team Bahrain Victorious represent a continuation of the investigation process that began during the team’s successful performances at last year’s Tour de France.”
Bahrain Victorious won three stages in last year’s Tour. Their accommodation was raided following the 17th stage.

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