UAE Team Emirates star and defending champion Tadej Pogacar said he was “happy where I am” as he starts Monday’s stage three of the Tour de France.
The Slovenian finished second behind Alpecin-Fenix rider Mathieu van der Poel on Sunday’s second stage to move up three places in the general classification into third, 13 seconds behind the leader.
“It was a good day,” Pogacar, 22, who remains in the white jersey of the best young rider, told cyclingnews.com.
“First things first, everyone in our team started the stage: it make us happy that Marc [Hirschi] recovered well from yesterday’s crash.
“I would have liked to win, but I am also happy to see Mathieu van der Poel win. It would have been difficult for me to win today, because there were many guys following my every move.”
Pogacar was nicely led by his UAE Team Emirates squad for most of the second stage before he made his challenge on the first ascent of Mur-de-Bretagne.
He kicked clear of Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic, GC leader Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) to pick up five bonus seconds for second place behind Van der Poel.
Ineos proceeded to control the race on the run-in to the final dash up to Mur-de-Bretagne, where Van der Poel unleashed his winning attack with 700 metres to go.
Pogacar had no immediate response, but he was prominent when the chasing group broke up within sight of the line. He clipped away with Roglic and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) and won the sprint for second.
“In the end I took the second place, and I’m happy with that,” the UAE Team Emirates rider added.
“It was a surprise for me to see Mathieu attacking on the first climb, even if he joked at the beginning of the stage with me that we three [Pogacar, Roglic, Van der Poel] should go on the attack today.
“I’m happy with where I am right now. I’m pleased with my shape and with how my Tour de France is looking.”
The sprinters will be on the road to Pontivy and Fougeres in the next two days, but Pogacar and Roglic face an important test on stage five, the 27.2km time trial from Change to Laval.