Pogacar Cuts Further Into Vingegaard’s Tour de France Lead

Pogacar Cuts Further Into Vingegaard’s Tour de France Lead

“Right now, I’m good, but after the stage I don’t know,” Pogacar said before the stage. “The final climb will be really explosive,” he predicted. “The last 4K will be really brutal.” And so it proved.

The Puy de Dôme, an extinct volcano, was long thought to be too narrow for thousands of spectators, plus motorbikes, team cars, television cameras and the rest of the modern Tour infrastructure. Sunday’s return after 35 years was made possible in part by keeping out spectators for the final few miles.

Eight minutes ahead of the big two riders, Michael Woods of Canada was winning the stage after chasing down the American Matteo Jorgenson. “I can’t believe I did it,” he said of his first stage win at age 36. Noting the unusual absence of spectators toward the end, he said, “It was deafening until about 4K to go, then, all of a sudden, silence.” He added, “It’s an iconic climb, beautiful.”

But the battle for overall Tour victory was resuming farther down the mountain.

Pogacar attacked with about a mile of tough climbing to go. He got a small gap on Vingegaard, as the other members of their group melted away. Pogacar kept up the pressure, and the gap widened to five seconds. But Pogacar needed 25. In the end he gained eight seconds and now trails by 17 seconds overall. The margin to third-place Jai Hindley of Australia increased by more than a minute to 2 minutes 40 seconds.

“It’s not a victory, but it’s a small victory,” Pogacar said. “I was a bit scared. The guys were telling me, ‘It’s so hard, it’s so steep.’ But actually today we were flying uphill, so it didn’t feel so steep.”

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