Tour de France: champion Pogacar triumphs in the mountains for UAE Team Emirates

210715 Pogacar

The stage winner, Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow overall leader’s jersey, the second Danish Jonas Vingegaard, wearing the white best youngster jersey, and the third Richard Carapaz of Ecuador, from right to left, climb the Col du Portet during the seventeenth stage of the Tour de France.
Image Credit: AP

Saint-Lary-Soulan, France: Tadej Pogacar of UAE Team Emirates emerged above the clouds atop the Pyrenean Col du Portet to extend his overall lead and win the 17th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday after an epic fight with his two closest pursuers, Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz.

Ecuadorian Carapaz launched a lightning attack 1.5km from the finish at the 2,200m summit, but was anguished by defending champion Pogacar, for whom it was an iconic career moment, winning a difficult stage with the general leader’s yellow jersey already on his back.

After crushing the peloton during the time trial on stage 5, the Slovenian won his second victory on this lap to extend his lead over the surprising Dane Vingegaard to 5min 39sec.

The discreet Carapaz climbed to third place in the general classification four seconds behind, after Rigoberto Uran was let go on the last slope. The Colombian slipped to fourth place at 7min 17sec.

“It was the toughest part of the tour, and I dedicate this victory to my team who have worked so hard for me here,” said Pogacar.

“This Tour is not over until the last lap of the Champs-Elysées,” he said when asked if he believed the defense of his title was now sealed.

On the French National Day of July 14, there were almost as many Slovenian flags on the final climb as there were French flags and a healthy handful of Basque berets were flown in the huge crowd lining the slopes.

Storming Bastille Day

French fans had a lot to smile about as local FDJ prospect David Gaudu placed fourth at a finish line above the clouds in this bear-inhabited corner of France.

The mountaineer Gaudu ran the stage with the French tricolor on his helmet.

Another French team AG2R saw his Australian podium hope Ben O’Connor consolidate fifth place overall as he completed the top five of the day after winning the alpine stage to the ski resort of Tignes.

AG2R boss Vincent Lavenu told AFP that the stage, with a 36 km steep climb on the final section, was a “race for second place and half of the contenders will be dropped here”.

This turned out to be the case, but Ineos Carapaz’s man, who looked to be struggling after the top three broke up with the contenders 8km away from home, continued to fight with his late glare but unsuccessful.

Before Vingegaard attacked an elite clique on Mont Ventoux last week, he was an unknown.

Since then, the painfully shy Jumbo man from the remote Danish region of North Jutland has become a serious contender for the podium.

With his team reduced to four riders, he admitted that Wednesday “the plan was just to follow”.

He cemented his hold on second place by surviving the climb to the Col du Portet and said he was “relieved, happy and proud” and explained that his family was at the finish line.

The chef had warm words for the man on his tail.

“It’s fantastic, a top-level rider,” said Pogacar, who like Vingegaard is in his second Tour de France.

“I like to run against him. He’s a great guy and he could win a Tour de France soon, ”said Pogacar.

A final summit finish awaits the riders on Thursday before Saturday’s potentially decisive time trial and Sunday’s parade in Paris.

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