Tadej Pogacar salvages pride but Jonas Vingegaard set to retain Tour title

By Sports Desk July 22, 2023 616

Tadej Pogacar outsprinted Jonas Vingegaard to victory on stage 20 of the Tour de France in Le Markstein, but it was the Dane who could begin celebrating the defence of his title ahead of Sunday’s procession into Paris.

Pogacar proved unable to challenge Vingegaard for the yellow jersey in the final week of this race as his hopes evaporated in the Alps, but he made a point on the final mountain test as he beat Vingegaard in a five-man sprint at the end of the 133km stage from Belfort.

Felix Gall snuck ahead of Vingegaard for second place on the day, while Simon Yates and Adam Yates came in fourth and fifth, results that seal third overall for Adam and see Simon move up to fourth after Carlos Rodriguez was left bloodied above his left eye following a nasty early crash.

Pogacar’s stage win earned him six bonus seconds over Vingegaard, who will carry a lead of seven minutes and 29 seconds on to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.

The front five came to the line 33 seconds ahead of Warren Barguil and Thibaut Pinot, who had dared to dream that the final mountain stage of his final Tour de France – raced on home roads for the 33-year-old – could end in victory when he went clear from a breakaway with 30 kilometres left.

But he was reeled in first by Tom Pidcock and Barguil on the final climb and then overhauled by those who would go on to contest the stage.

Pogacar, Vingegaard and Gall opened up a small gap before the Yates twins rode back up, with Adam then providing the lead-out for team-mate Pogacar in the sprint.

“Today I finally feel like myself again,” Pogacar said. “It was just really good from start to finish, to feel good again after many days suffering and to pull it off in the finish I’m just super, super happy.

“Adam did a super job. I was waiting for him to come back and his brother again was super good. I know him now well, he led me out really good and thanks to him it was a bit easier to prepare for the final, less nervous and I’m super happy the team did such a great job once again.”

Adam Yates said: “For me personally third (overall) is the best result I’ve ever had in a Grand Tour so obviously I’m pretty happy. We’re a little bit disappointed as our goal was to get yellow, but in the end there was only one guy better than us.”

That one guy was Vingegaard. For the first two weeks it was one of the closest Tours in history, but in the space of two days a 10-second advantage became seven-and-a-half minutes as Pogacar stumbled in Tuesday’s time trial, then fell completely on the Col de la Loze on Wednesday.

There had been questions over Pogacar’s form before the Tour given his lack of racing since he broke his wrist in April, but Vingegaard has not won purely by taking advantage of his rival’s troubles, as shown by the near 11-minute gap to Adam Yates in the overall standings.

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Last modified on Saturday, 22 July 2023 12:04
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