Team Visma CEO Richard Plugge on Tadej Pogacar: "We will only see in the Tour de France what the real level is"

Tadej Pogacar is currently dominating the Giro d'Italia. The victory was expected and, without major crashes or illnesses, the Slovenian has - so far - won five stages - and ridden through Italy without a real challenger for the pink jersey. However, for Team Visma | Lease a Bike CEO Richard Plugge, this means that it is hard to analyze Pogacar's current level.

Pogacar currently is joined in the podium by Daniel Martínez and Geraint Thomas, but arguably none of them have been at a similar level. Jonas Vingegaard, Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel are expected to be his biggest rivals at the Tour de France, but the UAE Team Emirates rider has not competed with neither of them this year in the mountains. And Plugge believes that only at the Tour will the team understand if his level has increased or not.

“I think what is missing here is an Evenepoel, Roglic or Vingegaard to compete with," Plugge said in words to Cyclingnews. "That is unfortunately the case. We will only see in the Tour what the real level is.” After the Giro, which Pogacar should seal this Sunday in Rome, he will rest for a week, before taking on an altitude camp for three weeks ahead of the Tour. He should arrive in good form, as last year even with limited preparation he entered the race firing all cylinders.

This time around it is Jonas Vingegaard having a limited and non-ideal preparation, but Plugge reassures that there is good evolution. “Jonas is doing well, and his progress is going very well. But we have to make our decision at a later time whether he is really capable of being at the start of the Tour at one hundred percent," he says. "We have to wait and see how the evolution continues in the coming weeks, but we have good hope."

"On the other hand, we also want to give him and ourselves time to make a good decision. We are not putting a deadline on that.” Vingegaard is unlikely to race before the Tour de France, but as is the case with Pogacar, take on a long altitude camp in June instead of racing as he is still trying to recover his base form after weeks off the bike.

However, Vingegaard is currently riding in sunny Mallorca already, with hopes of still reaching his best level during the Tour. There is just over month left to go in this mission. “He is the outgoing winner there. He has now won the Tour twice in a row, but when he starts, he has to be at 100 percent. The Tour is not a race where you can go to and hope for the best. Hope is never a good start, so we have to be sure of his level.”

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