The duel between the two Slovenes didn’t start on French roads, though, but at home. In June, Pogacar beat Roglic in Slovenia’s national time trial championship by just nine seconds, a week after Roglic had claimed the national road race title, 10 seconds ahead of Pogacar.
The two then took their cat-and-mouse game to France, and it came in full display in the hills on Stage 13. As Pogacar unseated last year’s winner, Egan Bernal, from the second position in the overall standings, Roglic made clear that he would not let Pogacar cut any further into his lead: He rode right behind him, and the two completed the stage together.
Pogacar said he and Roglic weren’t friends during those final miles that day, and that more rivalry would come. At the time, the two Slovenes were followed by four Colombians in the general classification, and many thought that Bernal, ranking third, could come back.
Two days later, in the 15th stage last Sunday, Pogacar won his second stage, and once again Roglic was on his wheel, not giving him a chance to close the gap in the standings. But they had used that day to drop Bernal, the defending champion who later abandoned the race, and take the reins of the event for good.
“He is unstoppable,” Pogacar had said of Roglic then.
A week later, that word applied to Pogacar.