Tour de France stage 5: How can anyone beat Tadej Pogačar?

Tadej Pogacar on the podium at the 2021 Tour de France
Tadej Pogacar on the podium at the 2021 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

It took Tadej Pogačar just nine kilometres as he came storming through the first time check on the stage 5 time trial course, to lay down a marker in the reclamation of his Tour de France title. The flat 27km parcours in Laval couldn't have been more different to the uphill route at La Planche des Belles Filles where he sensationally upended the Tour less than a year ago, but dressed in the same white skinsuit as the best young rider in the race, it looked like little else had changed in the last 10 months, as Pogačar produced a time that made everyone sit up and take notice. He was already 11 seconds quicker than European TT champion Stefan Küng only a third of the way through the course, and went on to win the stage with a result that could well define this year’s Tour in a similar way to his performance last year.

The Tour de France that will roll out of Tours on stage 6 already feels very different to the one we’ve seen over the first five days, with the general classification riders having their first real opportunity to show their cards in the TT. And while Pogačar might not have quite wrestled the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Mathieu van der Poel, in taking the stage victory he widened his advantage over his rivals, and made the first major move towards retaining his title in Paris. The question now is, with more than two weeks still to race, how does anyone stop him? 

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Sophie Hurcom is Procycling’s deputy editor. She joined the magazine in 2017, after working at Cycling Weekly where she started on work experience before becoming a sub editor, and then news and features writer. Prior to that, she graduated from City University London with a Masters degree in magazine journalism. Sophie has since reported from races all over the world, including multiple  Tours de France, where she was thrown in at the deep end by making her race debut in 2014 on the stage that Chris Froome crashed out on the Roubaix cobbles.