China lead the way with four medals after the opening day of the Olympics, as Richard Carapaz doubled Ecuador's all-time tally of golds in Tokyo.

Yang Qian was the first athlete to strike gold in the Japanese capital, winning the women's 10-metre air rifle competition for China.

Sun Yiwen also claimed a gold medal for China in the women's epee individual fencing event, while compatriot Hou Zhihui came out on top with an Olympic record in the women's 49kg weightlifting.

Pang Wei claimed China's other medal on the opening day, taking bronze in the men's 10m air pistol event.

Carapaz produced a sensational ride to win the men's road race title, becoming the second athlete from Ecuador to win an Olympic gold medal.

Host nation Japan and Italy are joint-second in the medal table with a gold and a silver apiece.

There were three medals for South Korea, including a triumph for Kim Je Deok and An San in the first mixed team archery event.

The United States remain notably absent from the primitive medal table, though, having ended the first day of the Games without a medal for the first time since Munich 1972.

 

Richard Carapaz and the rest of Ecuador are "over the moon" after his victory in the men's cycling road race on Saturday.

Carapaz – who finished third in the general classification of the Tour de France earlier this month – crossed the finish line on the Fuji speedway well over a minute ahead of his nearest rivals to clinch Ecuador's second Olympic gold medal.

Meanwhile in the tennis, Andy Murray, who clinched gold in the singles at the 2012 and 2016 Games, started strongly with his doubles partner Joe Salisbury, as Team GB overcame French favourites Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

There was a shock for 2008 gold medallist Phil Dalhausser, as he and fellow American Nick Lucena fell foul of Dutch duo Robert Meeuwsen and Alexander Brouwer, while Naohisa Takato won Japan's first gold of the Games.

 

CARAPAZ CLAIMS RARE ECUADOR TRIUMPH

Carapaz came close in Le Tour, but ultimately could not match the power of Tadej Pogacar, who defended his title in cycling's prime road race.

Yet on the slopes of Mount Fuji, the South American came up with the goods to deliver a long-awaited success for Ecuador.

"My country is over the moon right now. It's the second Olympic medal in the history of my country," he told a news conference after his success, with Tour champion Pogacar claiming bronze behind Belgium's Wout Van Aert.

"The last medal that we won was 25 years ago, so it's a very special moment. It's the first medal in cycling, and cycling is a big sport in my country."

Carapaz's triumph came as good news for Geraint Thomas, who crashed out of the race after colliding with his British team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart.

"Couldn't be happier for Richard Carapaz," tweeted Thomas – the Ecuadorian's fellow INEOS Grenadiers rider. "To finish on the podium at the Tour and win gold a week later is just incredible. Enjoy it mate. King of Ecuador."

MURRAY STARTS STRONG

It has been a long comeback trail for Murray, who was at the top of his game when he won his second Olympic gold medal back in 2016.

He faces a stern test in the singles on Sunday, when he goes up against Canada's Felix Auger Aliassime, and while a defence of that win may be unlikely, he and Salisbury made good progress in the doubles.

Murray was a silver medallist in the mixed doubles at the London Games, and along with Salisbury had too much for second seeds Mahut and Herbert, with the pair needing just 75 minutes to win 6-3 6-2.

"I think we have the potential to be a really good team," said Murray. "We were well deserved winners today – we created lots of chances, but not every doubles match is like that.

"If we keep the same sort of attitude and everything, prepare diligently, I think we've got a chance of doing well."

Murray's younger brother Jamie also enjoyed a fine start, as he and Neal Skupski came from behind to beat Argentina's Andres Molteni and Horacio Zeballos in a final-set tie-break.

TAKATO GETS JAPAN UP AND RUNNING

Naohisa Takato won Japan's first gold medal of the Tokyo Games, as he triumphed in the men's under-60kg judo final against Yang Yung-wei of Taiwan.

Takato, a three-time world champion and a bronze medallist in Rio, claimed a fitting victory for Japan in a sport that originated in the country, with the event taking place at the famous Nippon Budokan venue.

He had to beat Yeldos Smetov of Kazakhstan in a gruelling semi-final. Smetov shared the bronze medal with France’s Luka Mkheidze.

A shock earlier in the day saw Robert Mshvidobadze drop out in the last 16.

DALHAUSSER'S STRUGGLES CONTINUE, NO JOY FOR SETO

It has been a difficult start to the Games for Beijing beach volleyball champion Dalhausser, who had to quarantine after he was deemed a contact of Taylor Crabb. He was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test, which has dented the United States' hopes.

Dalhausser could only train with Lucena on two occasions prior to Saturday's meeting with Meeuwsen and Brouwer and the lack of sharpness told as the Dutch prevailed 21-17 21-18 at the Shiokaze Park arena.

There was also no joy for home favourite Daiya Seto. The Japanese swimmer, who won a bronze medal in 2016, had been tipped to shine in the men's 400m individual medley, yet failed to qualify for the final as he finished ninth in the heat.

"In Rio I went out too fast [in the prelim] and didn't recover for the final. In the last 100 [today] I didn't let it all out. It was a misjudgement. The pressure wasn't too much," Seto said afterwards.

"I have the 200m butterfly and 200IM. I'll just forget what happened and focus on my events."

Ecuador's Richard Carapaz powered away to Olympic gold medal glory in the Tokyo 2020 men's road race.

After finishing third in the general classification at the Tour de France, Carapaz produced a stunning ride just six days later in Japan

He crossed the line one minute and seven seconds clear of a distant chasing pack.

Silver in a sprint finish was secured by Belgium's Wout Van Aert and, barely the width of a tyre further back, bronze went to Slovenia's Tour champion Tadej Pogacar.

Carapaz, 28, adds the Olympic title to his 2019 Giro d'Italia triumph, and he slapped his handlebar, punched the air and clapped himself as he crossed the line.

The 234-kilometre race took in the lower slopes of Mount Fuji and a daunting ascent of Mikuni Pass that featured an average gradient of 10.6 per cent and sections that topped 20 per cent.

The riders finished on the Fuji International Speedway, in front of a crowd – being outside Tokyo, a limited number of spectators were allowed to watch the action.

Former Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas was involved in an early crash with Great Britain team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart and subsequently abandoned the race.

Thomas later tweeted: "Think I must have done something bad in a previous life... Freak crash, Tao lost his front wheel and decked it in front of me. I had nowhere to go, other than the floor as well."

The Netherlands' Bauke Mollema was edged out of the medals in the sprint, finishing fourth, with fifth going to Canada's Michael Woods and sixth to American Brandon McNulty, who had joined Carapaz in a two-man break in the closing stages, only to drop off the champion's pace.

The men's road cycling race is a standout event as dreams will turn into a reality a year later than athletes might have hoped for at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.

After Naomi Osaka lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony on Friday, Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar will be striving to light up the opening day of competition.

Pogacar goes for gold less than a week after the Slovenian sensation retained his Tour title in Paris and it will be an incredible achievement if he is on top of the podium again.

There will also be archery, judo, shooting, taekwondo and weightlifting titles up for grabs on the first day of the Games 12 months after they were due to be contested.

Stats Perform pick out what to look out for on Saturday.

 

POGACAR FACES ANOTHER HUGE STAMINA TEST

Pogacar dominated the Tour de France and is the favourite to follow that up with Olympic gold in what promises to be a thrilling road race.

His compatriot Primoz Roglic is another strong contender for gold, while Canada's Michael Woods and Spaniard Alejandro Valverde will start the race with high hopes of securing a medal.

Belgian duo Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert are also expected to be in the mix.

The 234-kilometre course starts at Musashinonomori Park and finishes at the Fuji International Speedway and features five big ascents, including one on Mount Fuji.

 

HIGH HOPES FOR JAPANESE JUDOKAS

There will be no spectators to provide support, but that is not expected to stop Japanese judokas from setting the standard once again.

The host nation has 39 gold, 19 silver and 26 bronze medals in judo, making it the only sport the country tops the all-time Olympic medal table in.

Naoki Ogata, technical operations manager with the International Judo Federation, is setting the bar high with his expectations on home soil.

"No doubt, we want a gold medal in all weight categories," said Ogata.

 

DJOKOVIC IN HUNT FOR GOLDEN SLAM

Novak Djokovic has already won three of the four majors this year and an Olympic title would leave him heading to the US Open knowing victory would complete the Golden Slam.

The world number one from Serbia plays Hugo Dellien of Bolivia when the men's singles starts on Saturday, while Poland's Iga Swiatek is among the standout players in action in the women's singles - which she begins against Mona Barthel.

There is also women's and men's doubles action on Saturday. 

The pick of the other events to be getting under way will be artistic gymnastics, badminton, swimming, boxing, hockey and rowing.

Having taken a five-month break in January, Tom Dumoulin cannot wait to get back into cycling action for the Netherlands as he lines up as one of the favourites in Tokyo.

Dumoulin took an indefinite break from cycling at the start of 2021 to understand his motivations for the sport, but the three-time Tour de France stage winner returned in June and will represent his country at the Games.

Usually a time-trial specialist, Dumoulin will compete in the combined road race and time trial as he looks to become only the second cyclist to win both events at a single Games.

The only cyclist to achieve this feat before is Dumoulin's compatriot Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel, who won both events at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000.

"I'm glad to be back. I had a couple of good weeks in June and the condition improved gradually. The most important thing is that I had fun on the bike again, and I took pleasure in working towards a goal again," the 2017 Giro d'Italia general classification winner said.

"I really want to go for it in the road race. It's a super-beautiful course and the heat normally suits me. I mainly prepared for the time trial, because that's my main goal, but that full gas on Saturday does not have to affect my [performance in the] time trial on Wednesday."

The Netherlands and Italy have won a joint-record nine cycling gold medals at the Games and Dumoulin believes he and his team-mates have another good chance of success on Saturday.

"We have Bauke Mollema as target man and that's logic. We have got a strong team, but not really a team to control the race.

"Dylan Van Baarle, Wilco Kelderman and me, we have free roles and the three of us hope to go a long way, but we will support Bauke wherever necessary.

"Yoeri Havik who combines the road race with track cycling [at Tokyo 2020], joins us to support the team in the first 100 kilometres."

Mark Cavendish delivered such an incredible comeback at the Tour de France that he sits alongside cycling royalty in the history books.

Cavendish had last featured at the Tour de France in 2016, and was not expecting to ride in the event this year. Indeed, he had even hinted retirement may be a possibility following a loss of form and several bouts of injury.

Yet, after a late substitution in for Deceuninck-QuickStep and four stage wins later, Cavendish had served up a welcome reminder of his excellence.

"I found out just a week before the Tour de France started and that was that," Cavendish said. "We didn't know what was happening with Sam Bennett's knee so I was just training as if I was going but with a 99 per cent probability that I wasn't going."

Belgian great Eddy Merckx's record of 34 stage victories had stood since 1975, but the flurry of wins for Cavendish over the past three weeks means he has matched that total.

There was to be no last hurrah on the final stage for Cavendish, as he gritted his teeth but could only cross the line third in Sunday's sprint on the Champs Elysees. Consolation came with green jersey glory for the second time in his career, the king of the sprinters in the 2021 Tour.

Perhaps next year he will be back with a 35th win in his sights. Here, Stats Perform looks back at Cavendish's stage triumphs so far.

2008

In his first professional season, Cavendish started as he meant to go on at Le Tour, winning four stages. His first came in stage five at the culmination of a 232km route. He followed that up with successes in stages eight, 12 and 13 before he abandoned the tour ahead of competing at the Beijing OIympics.

2009

After becoming the first British rider to wear the general classification leader's pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia, Cavendish's dominance of the sprints in grand tours really clicked into gear. He won a sensational six stages of Le Tour in 2009, including his first of four on the bounce on the Champs-Elysees. In the process, he also set a new record for Tour de France stage wins by a British rider.

2010

Five stage victories followed in 2010, even though Cavendish crashed out of the final sprint on the opening day. The Manx rider won stages five, six, 11, 18 and 20 to take his total to 15 over three appearances at Le Tour, though his efforts were not enough to claim the green jersey.

2011

Cavendish did clinch the green jersey the following year, despite being docked 20 points for finishing outside the time limit after stage nine and again after 18. Triumphant efforts in stages five, seven, 11, 15 and 21 took his career total to 20.

2012 

Wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey, Cavendish crossed the line first on the Champs-Elysees for the fourth year running, earning his third stage win of the 2012 Tour. He became the most successful sprinter in Tour history with 23 wins, as well as being the first rider to win the Paris stage while wearing the rainbow jersey.

 

2013

Cavendish won stage five in Marseille, though he had to withstand being drenched with urine by a spectator on stage 11 – cycling is not a sport for the faint-hearted, after all. The 28-year-old also went on to win stage 13, though a fifth straight triumph in Paris eluded him.

2015

The 2014 Tour ended quickly for Cavendish as, in the sprint finish in Harrogate – Yorkshire having hosted the Grand Depart – he crashed out and suffered a shoulder injury. He bounced back in 2015 to win his 26th stage, nipping in ahead of Andre Greipel in Fougeres.

2016

After three quiet years at Le Tour by his standard, Cavendish was back at his blistering best in 2016, and completed his set of overall classification lead jerseys in Grand Tours when he clinched the opening stage in Normandy. A victory in stage three saw him equal Bernard Hinault's tally, with further celebrations following in stage six and 14, before he went on to claim his first Olympic medal with silver in the Rio omnium.

2021

Back from five years in the wilderness, when Merckx's record must have seemed cruelly so close yet so far away, Cavendish reminded everyone of his talent with a win in stage four, and two days later, he had scooped his 50th stage success at a Grand Tour. The win in Valence on stage 10 ensured that no, this was no joke and, after he matched Merckx in Carcassonne, Cavendish had 34 victories. He was terribly close in Paris to what would have been a glorious 35th, but for now he must settle for sharing illustrious company.

Tadej Pogacar said he felt "super happy" after putting the finishing touches to a second successive Tour de France triumph.

The 22-year-old Slovenian had led the general classification from stage eight, and 15 days down the road in Paris he wrapped up a supremely impressive performance.

As well as the top prize, Pogacar also collected the king of the mountain and young rider honours, and it is hard to imagine there not being abundant further success to come over the next decade.

Pogacar spoke on the podium after his win, saying: "Last year I should have written a speech for my first Tour de France victory but I didn't know how to write it.

"So also this year I said, 'OK, I'm going to speak from the heart and say what I have to say'.

"Thank you everybody that came here to support us cyclists through all the three weeks. To the French public and all fans of cycling from the whole world, it is so fantastic racing on the amazing parcours of the Tour this year."

He thanked his team, UAE Team Emirates, for helping him achieve the goals they set out to reach.

"I cannot describe how happy I am to be part of this family, it melts my heart," Pogacar said.

"They were with me every day of the whole year preparing for the Tour. I'm super happy and proud to be part of this team on this journey.

"I'm not going to cry. Thank you everybody. It was a difficult year with COVID and I really hope next year we come here without the masks.

"Of course I cannot forget my family, standing beside me, and my girlfriend and my friends. I hope I've told enough but I'm super happy. Thank you everybody."

Pogacar said it was "time for celebration".

"I will remain motivated in the coming years, but what come next will come next… I’m not stressed about it," Pogacar said, quoted on the Tour's official website.

"It's quite different. Last year, I felt strong, incredible emotions. This year I'm again here, standing atop the podium, but the feelings are quite different."

 

Tour great Eddy Merckx won the general classification five times from 1969 to 1974, and had such a ruthlessness he was nicknamed 'The Cannibal'.

Pogacar does not want to be compared to legends of the sport, insisting he should be allowed to plot his own career path.

"The new Cannibal? I don't like to compare myself to other riders," he said. "Each rider has his own style and personality. Every rider is unique. I don't think there is anything left. I just enjoy life, I work hard, I love cycling – and those are the most important things."

Pogacar did not quite secure a sweep of the Tour honours, with the green jersey – the points classification that rewards the best sprinters – going to 36-year-old Deceuninck-QuickStep star Mark Cavendish.

Cavendish's four stage victories took him level with the record of 34 that Merckx had owned exclusively for over 40 years.

"Ten years later, again with the green jersey, it's fantastic, it feels like getting younger," Cavendish said. "I'm back. It's a dream."

Tadej Pogacar clinched a second successive Tour de France general classification title as Mark Cavendish narrowly missed out on a record-breaking 35th stage win.

It was a racing certainty that Pogacar would be crowned on the Champs Elysees on Sunday after dominating the 21-stage tour, having secured top spot on Saturday ahead of the largely processional finale in Paris.

Cavendish made sure of the green jersey as the tour's top sprinter, but hopes of a 35th stage win were dashed when Wout van Aert snatched glory in the French capital.

Cavendish had powered from 30 stage wins at the start of the 2021 Tour to 34 during the course of the past three weeks, matching Eddie Merckx's long-standing record, but the Manxman could not nose ahead of Van Aert in a frantic finish.

Van Aert's success means his Belgian compatriot Merckx continues to hold a share of that stage-win record, and it raises the question of whether Cavendish will return in 2022 in an effort to take sole ownership.

The sprint was suitably phenomenal, with Jumbo-Visma's Van Aert keeping enough in reserve to get ahead of countryman Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), who took second, and third-placed Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

It means Van Aert became the first Tour rider since 1979 to win a sprint, a mountain stage and an individual time trial in the same edition of the race.

The time-trial success came on Saturday, and it was remarkable he had so much left in the tank 24 hours later.

Van Aert said on Eurosport: "This tour has just been amazing. It's been such a roller coaster, but to finish with a weekend like this is beyond expectations."

His next target will be an Olympic gold, with Van Aert revealing he was due to travel from Paris to Tokyo later on Sunday.

He realised after sealing victory that he would be a man in demand over the coming hours.

"I guess I put myself in trouble because I have to take a flight tonight," Van Aert added. "We'll see if I can get there.

"It's definitely not a pity. I went for it today because a victory like this is priceless."

Tadej Pogacar was unable to secure a time trial victory on stage 20 of the Tour de France but will complete the formality of back-to-back general classification triumphs in Paris on Sunday.

On last year's penultimate stage, Pogacar overhauled a 57 second deficit to fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic to snatch the Yellow Jersey, completing one of the most staggering turnarounds in the history of the race.

Such drama was never on the cards on the 31 kilometre route to Saint Emilion, given UAE Team Emirates' Pogacar boasted a lead in excess of five minutes, which Jonas Vingegaard trimmed slightly but not significantly as the race heads to its ceremonial conclusion in the French capital.

As such, he never had to pursue the stage win and its associated undue risk, with victory going to Wout van Aert in a time of 35 minutes and 53 seconds.

The Belgian rider has enjoyed a superb Tour and this was his second stage win – a sharply contrasting success to him twice conquering Mont Ventoux on a historic stage 11.

“It is quite something, winning a Tour de France time trial has been one of the biggest objectives in my career," Van Aert told ITV. "I've been really focused on this day in the last couple of days and I'm so happy that I can finish it off. The course was perfect for me."

Van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team-mate Vingegaard came in third, consolidating second place in the general classification standings, while fellow Dane Kasper Asgreen was runner-up on the day, 21 seconds in arrears.

Pogacar rolled in 57 seconds shy of Van Aert's mark in eighth, having long made this year's Yellow Jersey his own.

STAGE RESULT

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 35:53
2. Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) +0:21
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:32
4. Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) +:0:38
5. Nils Politt (EF Education-Nippo) +0:44

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 79:40:09
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:20
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +7:03

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 304
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 269
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 216

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

Alongside Pogacar's coronation in Paris, much of the focus will be on whether Mark Cavendish can sprint to glory on the Champs Elysees and go clear of the great Eddy Merckx with a 35th stage win of his career.

Mark Cavendish could not secure a 35th Tour de France stage win to break Eddy Merckx's record as Matej Mohoric prevailed on stage 19 to claim his second victory of this year's race.

Cavendish, 36, was tipped to break the all-time record for stage wins, set by Merckx in 1975, but he will now have to wait for the opportunity on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday.

Under 48 hours after Bahrain Victorious had their team hotel and bus raided, Mohoric's triumph – his second and the team's third win at this year's Tour – resembled a procession as he cruised home with a near one-minute advantage.

A sprint finish in Libourne to conclude the 207km route seemed perfect for Cavendish to create history, yet his team, Deceuninck-QuickStep, did not manage the breakaway effectively this time.

Mohoric was part of the initial group to break clear inside the final 100km before that section of riders halved in size with 30km to go.

Five kilometres later, the Slovenian seized the initiative as he produced another long-range attack to secure the lead, remaining untroubled as he eased to the finish.

With Cavendish back in the peloton, it was Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Casper Pedersen (Team DSM) who claimed second and third respectively in the sprint.

Yellow jersey holder Tadej Pogacar had an easy time of it, as his procession into Paris gets well and truly underway.

Barring any problems in Saturday's time trial, Pogacar is a certainty for the general classification, king of the mountains and young rider triumphs.

STAGE RESULT

1. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) 4:19:17
2. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) +0:58
3. Casper Pedersen (Team DSM) +0:58
4. Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) +:1:02
5. Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:08

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 79:40:09
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:45
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:51

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 304
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 269
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 216

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

A shorter and flatter route than last year’s ride to La Planche des Belles Filles, the 31km time trial towards Saint Emilion will suit the specialists in this discipline and is unlikely to be as dramatic as the last Tour’s equivalent test, which saw Pogacar snatch victory from Primoz Roglic.

Tadej Pogacar sealed the king of the mountains jersey and consolidated his dominance of this year's Tour de France with a second successive stage win.

Defending champion Pogacar stormed to victory up the Col du Portet on Wednesday and, a day later, he was charging clear of nearest general classification rivals Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) to clinch another summit success.

On the final mountain stage before the Tour rolls towards Paris, UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar was in a four-man breakaway with around 700 metres to go, and it was at that stage he made his move.

With Movistar's Enric Mas having run out of gas, Pogacar propelled himself through into the final part of the second hors categorie climb of Thursday's 129km route through the Pyrenees.

Pogacar was able to enjoy his win as he went over the line, with Vingegaard nipping ahead of Carapaz into second place – another repeat from Wednesday.

With the Luz Ardiden climb the final mountain of this year's Tour, Pogacar also won the race for the polka-dot jersey, taking it from Wouter Poels.

It capped a troubling day for Bahrain Victorious, whose team hotel and coach was raided by French police.

The only chance of Pogacar letting his grasp on the yellow jersey slip will come in Saturday's time trial. The equivalent stage last year saw Primoz Roglic lose his lead to Pogacar, who will almost certainly win the general classification, mountains classification, and young rider's classification for the second straight year.

"Why should I be worried, sometimes you can have a really bad day on a TT, let's hope it’s not a repeat," said Pogacar, who is only the fourth rider to win consecutive summit finishes at the Tour

"It was a game for me since I started, I'm enjoying playing it."

The day's intermediary sprint gave Mark Cavendish cause for celebration, as he took 11 points with a fifth-place finish, seeing Michael Matthews lose ground in the hunt for the green jersey.

Cavendish, and his Deceuninck–Quick-Step team-mates, coasted over the line with six minutes to spare before the time cut off, and will now aim for a record-setting win on Friday.

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 75:00:22
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:45
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:51

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 298
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 260
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 208

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

A 207km rolling route follows on Friday, which should result in a sprint finish in Libourne – Cavendish is the rider to watch, as he looks to make it 35 stage victories at the Tour de France.

French police carried out searches as they targeted the Bahrain Victorious team in Pau ahead of stage 18 of the Tour de France.

The reason for the raid on the team hotel has not been announced.

Team chiefs confirmed officers requested training information and searched rooms of the cyclists.

A Bahrain Victorious statement read: "On the eve of stage 18 of Tour de France, Team Bahrain Victorious were subject to an investigation by French police. The team were monitored by a number of officers following their arrival after stage 17 to the team hotel in Pau.

"The investigation involved a search of riders' rooms as part of the process. Despite being unaware of the investigation reasons, the team was also requested to provide all training files which were compiled and presented to the officers as requested."

Technical director Vladimir Miholjevic stressed there had been no wrongdoing on the part of the team and said the police action had been a disruption to planning for Thursday's stage.

He said: "Following stage 17, we were greeted by several French police officers. We were not given a warrant to read through, but the team complied with all the officers' requests.

"We are committed to highest level of professionalism and adherence to all regulatory requirements and will always be cooperating in a professional manner.

"The process had impacted our riders' recovery and meal planning and as a professional team, the well being of our team is a key priority."

 

The team's highest-ranking rider overall in this year's tour is Peio Bilbao, who sat 10th in the individual general classification going into Thursday's journey from Pau to Luz Ardiden.

Wouter Poels held top spot in the king of the mountains rankings, while Sonny Colbrelli was third in the points standings.

Bahrain Victorious, who had stage wins earlier in the Tour by Matej Mohoric and Dylan Teuns, stood collectively in first place in the team classification.

Tadej Pogacar took another giant leap towards defending his Tour de France title with victory up the Col du Portet on stage 17.

The UAE Team Emirates rider benefited from excellent work by his team-mates on the brutal 178.4 kilometre route, which started in Muret.

Rafal Majka in particular was worthy of great praise in aiding the cause of Pogacar, setting the Slovenian up brilliantly to push for the stage win on the final hors categorie climb.

Anthony Perez, the lone man remaining from the breakaway, was reeled in on the last of the three ascents with 8.5km remaining.

It was Pogacar, Jumbo-Visma's Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz of INEOS Grenadiers, who emerged as the frontrunners for the stage.

Despite dealing with gradients of 13 per cent, Pogacar always looked comfortable and there was never any doubt he would respond when Carapaz attacked 1.5km from a finish 2,215km above sea level, the highest of this year's Tour de France.

There was an element of surprise to that move, Carapaz having done little to help Pogacar and Vingegaard manage the climb while looking on the verge of being dropped.

But Pogacar called his bluff and it was he who clearly had the most left in the tank, surging clear in the final 200 metres to claim his second stage win of this year's Tour.

His lead at the top of the general classification stands at five minutes and 39 seconds from Vingegaard with three stages left before the final processional ride to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.

STAGE RESULT

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 5:03:31
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:03
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:04
4. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +:1:19
5. Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +1:26

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 71:26:27
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:39
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:43

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 287
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 251
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 201

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 78
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 67
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 66

What's next?

Does Pogacar have enough left in his legs for another hors categorie finish. The penultimate and final ascents are on the 129.7km ride from Pau to Luz Ardiden are each HC climbs as the Tour sees it's final mountain stage of 2021.

Given his lead in the GC, Pogacar does not need to make such an effort, but he might have the appetite for another win to emphasise his dominance on stage 18.

Sepp Kuss claimed his second ever stage victory as he triumphed at the Tour de France on Sunday, with Tadej Pogacar keeping control of the yellow jersey.

Jumbo-Visma's Kuss, who came into this year's Tour as a support rider for Primos Roglic, took his chance on the final, steepest climb of Stage 15, with around 20km of the 191.3km route into Andorra remaining.

The American rider – who won his previous Grand Tour stage in the 2019 Vuelta a Espana and is based in Andorra – held off competition from Alejandro Valverde, who looked good heading into the final descent of the day, only to burn out before he could catch Kuss.

Wouter Poels, who will take the polka dot jersey off Michael Woods, clinched third place in a sprint finish that also included Nairo Quintana.

Meanwhile, Pogacar expertly handled the general classification group, with Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) unable to close the gap.

It was a bad day for Guillaume Martin, who dropped from second in the GC to down to ninth, almost eight minutes adrift of Pogacar.

"I was really suffering a lot in this tour, I just didn't feel like I had the spice in the legs," said Kuss.

"Today I knew it was finishing where I live, I was really motivated for the stage and finally I had really good legs again, I'm so happy. 

"It was a hard day in the breakaway, I know the climb fairly well, I don't ride it so much in training because it's so hard. I knew the beginning was really tough, if I went there and got a gap I could try and hold it to the finish."

Supp's aim will now be to back Jonas Vingegaard, who kept Jumbo-Visma's dwindling GC hopes alive by moving himself into third, though he is still some way back from defending champion Pogacar.

STAGE RESULT

1. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) 5:12:06
2. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +0:23
3. Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) +1:15
4. Ion Izagirre (Astana) same time
5. Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education First) same time

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 62:07:18
2. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +5:18
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:32

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 279
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 207
3. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) 174

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 74
2. Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) 66
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 64

What's next?

Monday sees the final rest day of this year's race, with Le Tour resuming with a 169km route from Pas de la Case to Saint-Gaudens on Tuesday.

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