UAE Team Emirates sports director Allan Peiper has said he doesn't believe his rider Tadej Pogacar and Tour de France leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) will become enemies, whatever happens at this year's race.
The two Slovenians currently hold the top two positions overall, with Pogacar 44 seconds down on his older compatriot. Defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) is third, a further 15 seconds back.
"They will remain friends and they won't get in each other's way, but it's still a race," Peiper told Sporza on Saturday. "Tadej is proud that the Slovenians are at the top, but he's riding his own race. They certainly won't become enemies if one beats the other.
"It won't be easy to take time back, because Roglic is looking very good," the Australian admitted. "The only possibility is if he sees a weak moment with Roglic, who may have to react to the other favourites.
"Then he might be able to take some seconds, and maybe it will come to a showdown at La Planche des Belles Filles," said Peiper, where the riders will take on a 36km mountain time trial for stage 20 on Saturday – the Tour's penultimate stage.
Pojacar's race has been shaped by the setback he had on stage 7 when he was distanced in the crosswinds and lost 1:21 to Roglic and most of the other general classification contenders. If the Slovenian hadn't lost the time, he may have already been in the yellow jersey.
Peiper feels that the setback may have cajoled Pogacar into going on the attack the very next day – when he took back 40 seconds on Roglic and Bernal on the road to Loudenvielle – and then took the stage victory, and a 10-second time bonus, on stage 9 in Laruns.
"He has already made up some of that time he lost in the wind last Friday," his sports director said. "I said to my riders, 'Maybe something positive will come out of that negative'.
"I asked him yesterday if he'd be happy with second place in Paris," Peiper said. "Tadej was clear: he wants to win."
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