Cycling-Pogacar in the driver’s seat to win stage 17 and extend its lead overall

By Julien Pretot

SAINT-LARY SOULAN, France (Reuters) – Tadej Pogacar controlled his rivals and extended his lead in the Tour de France overall standings as the final podium took shape in a grueling 17th stage won by the defending champion on Wednesday.

The Slovenian edged out Dane Jonas Vingegaard and Ecuador Richard Carapaz at the top of the Portet pass (16km at 8.7%) to claim his first mountain stage victory this year after being the first attacker on the climb. final.

He is now ahead of Vingegaard by five minutes and 39 seconds with Carapaz in third place, four seconds more while Colombian Rigoberto Uran slipped to fourth place, at 7:17 off the pace, after having cracked in the haze of the Col du Portet.

Pogacar set off 8.4 km from the summit of the Pyrenean pass and only Vingegaard, Carapaz and Uran were able to follow initially. A second acceleration was fatal for Uran, who will need a spectacular comeback in stage 18 on Thursday at Luz Ardiden, the last mountain effort of the tour.

Barring a major meltdown on Thursday, Pogacar looks set to retain his title and while not as dominant as he was in the Alps, the 22-year-old has never seemed bothered in what was seen as the most difficult step.

“Last week we did a lot of work, the team was always ahead to control the race. Today with a small breakaway we saw an opportunity to aim for stage victory,” said Pogacar, UAE Team pilot, which is also shrinking. the gap with the Dutchman Wout Poels in the mountain classification.

“I’m really happy to have won in the toughest climb of the Tour. My teammates gave everything and I owed it to them. Winning with the yellow jersey on my shoulders is something I cannot describe.

“Tomorrow, if we can control like we did today, we can try again but we’ll see.”

Ineos Grenadiers leader Carapaz was on the wheels of Pogacar and Vingegaard on the steep climb to the finish at 2,215 meters and despite the appearance of pain, the 2019 Giro d’Italia champion attacked at 1.4 km from the summit.

Pogacar, who had looked annoyed with Carapaz’s attitude, followed while Vingegaard was dropped, only for the Dane to fall back with the line in sight.

Vingegaard thinks Carapaz was bluffing.

“Even when we were quiet he looked like he was in pain so I knew he was going to attack,” said the 24-year-old.

Pogacar then sped away and couldn’t be called, concluding a solid victory before falling back on exhaustion.

In a sign that his rivals have capitulated, Vingegaard, who took the lead of the Jumbo-Visma squad after the withdrawal of Primoz Roglic, last year’s runner-up following a crash, said: I took time on uranium. “

On Bastille Day, Frenchman David Gaudu won an honorable fourth place, 1:19 off the pace.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Toby Davis)

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