Tadej Pogacar takes the yellow jersey of the Tour de France in the mountains

LE GRAND-BORNAND, France – Tadej Pogacar dealt a demoralizing blow to his remaining Tour de France rivals on day one in the Alps, where the defending champion won the yellow jersey on Saturday’s grueling eighth stage.

Pogacar has stepped up his attempt to retain his tour title after once again proving himself to be a cut above the rest on the most demanding climbs. The 22-year-old Slovenian embarked on the fourth of five categorized climbs on his own, getting rid of Richard Carapaz, the last man – and possible contender – to keep his wheel.

Pogacar finished the 150.8 kilometer (93.7 mile) hike over five mountain passes from Oyonnax to Grand-Bornand in fourth place, seconds behind stage winner Dylan Teuns.

Teuns, a Belgian rider from the Bahrain team, managed to keep a slim lead over the mighty Pogacar on the final summit before negotiating the tricky descent to the finish line.

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Mathieu van der Poel relinquished the lead he had held for six days when he quickly passed out halfway through the brutal stage which also inflicted even greater losses on last year’s runner-up Primoz Roglic and 2018 winner Geraint Thomas. The two pre-race title hopefuls, who both had crashes in the first week, got completely disconnected even before the serious climbs started.

Wout van Aert remained in second place but went from 30 seconds at the start of the stage to 1 minute, 48 seconds behind Pogacar.

Carapaz finished more than three minutes behind Pogacar and is now fifth overall.

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Tadej Pogacar takes the Tour de France originally yellow jersey in the mountains appeared on NBCSports.com

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