No, it’s not a replay that we play for you on a loop. The image is recurring. Tadej Pogacar accelerates, Jonas Vingegaard jumps into his wheel, and the two men give way to the competition, as if alone in the world. The white jersey continues to grind his pedals while the yellow jersey follows him without flinching. Then “Pogi” turns around, feverishly hoping to see his rival move away from his field of vision, or at least to perceive a sign of weakness, in his gaze. But nay, the Dane is still there. The duo slows down and the group of favorites regains thickness.
From one day to the next, this scenario knows some adjustments. What does not change one iota is the result. The gap between the two men seems etched in stone. Since Wednesday and his Granon putsch, Vingegaard is 2’22” ahead of Pogacar, despite all the efforts made by the latter to reduce this margin. Tuesday towards Foix, the double defending champion remained faithful to his promise never to capitulate.Three times, he attacked.Twice uphill, during the ascent of Port de Lers, once downhill, hoping to surprise his opponent on the summit.Nothing worked.
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After this 16th stage which did not smile on him, Tadej Pogacar put his disappointment into perspective. He tries and will try to fire any wood, but he did not expect a fire from the first Pyrenean stage. “It was difficult to create significant gaps in this stage, analyzed the 23-year-old Slovenian. The climbs will be longer in the next two days. I always said that I was going to attack as much as possible, so I will continue to do it.” The message may have gone too well.
“I knew that Tadej [Pogacar] would attack, he will attack every day and I will follow him every day“, echoed Vingegaard mischievously. The leader of the general classification begins the third week in an almost ideal way. The first game in the Pyrenees allowed him to reassure himself about his condition, two days after a gadin intervened in the heart of a galley day: “I don’t feel like my form is regressing. I am recovering well and the rest day was welcome after my crash.”
Vingegaard: ‘I expected to be attacked but it went well’
“That he attacks from afar, it’s not bad for me”
Wednesday and Thursday, the difficulty will go up a notch. The harassment of “Pogi” could intensify and start even further from the finish. “That he attacks from afar is not bad for me. The harder the race, the more it benefits me“, gargles the trump card of the Jumbo-Visma. Rather cataloged as a pure climber than a puncher, Vingegaard did not let go of a centimeter during the Montée Laurent Jalabert, in Mende. The very special effort that will be required of him at the The Peyragudes altiport will be yet another challenge, but the impression that it is infallible is becoming more and more significant.
Especially since the trend has been reversed again, collectively. On Sunday, the Dutch formation looked gray, between a non-starting Primoz Roglic, a Steven Kruijswijk in an ambulance and a Tiesj Benoot who had also tasted the bitumen. This Tuesday, Benoot showed that he could still be useful, Sepp Kuss was brilliant and the sending of two riders in the breakaway as scouts was rather well used. All while Marc Soler finished out of time, for UAE Emirates.
Roglic non-starter, fall of Vingegaard, abandonment of Kruijswijk: Jumbo-Visma, black day
And besides, Van Aert was there, just in case…
The ground not conducive to making a difference was therefore not the only pitfall, for Pogacar: “Jonah [Vingegaard] was well surrounded, it was even harder to outrun him in these conditions“Especially since a Rafal Majka of the great days had a glitch, in the Wall of Péguère.”When he broke his chaincontinues its leader, he was imposing a big rhythm on the front of our group. Then I found myself with riders from the Jumbo, who also picked up Van Aert.”
“We always start our day with a plan, and today it was followed.adorned the green jersey, ready to destroy any desire for the “best young person” of this Tour, in the final. We wanted to put someone at the front, it was more a question of it being Christophe Laporte, but I placed myself in front because there was Brandon [McNulty] and Daniel Martinez (for UAE Emirates and INEOS Grenadiers, Ed), then the group quickly formed.” Wout van Aert concludes, as if to drive home the point: “We were always in control.”
Eekhoff sprinted Van Aert and the green jersey didn’t like it…
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