Everything with Pogacar, from his performance yesterday to his body language this morning, pointed to the Slovenian being a wounded animal. Jumbo-Visma and the rest of his rivals smelled blood. I don’t think anyone, apart from maybe Pogacar himself, saw this coming.
Absolutely ridiculous. Pogacar looks like he came out of a slingshot.
The top five:
1. Tadej Pogacar
2. Jonas Vingegaard, at 23’’
3. Tobias Halland Johannessen, at 1’22’’
4. Ruben Guerreiro 2’06’’
5. James Shaw, 2’15’’
The Slovenian puts 23 seconds between himself and his great rival, Vingegaard. And he’ll earn an extra 10 bonus seconds for the stage win, with Vingegaard taking a bonus six points for second.
Vingegaard will be in yellow, but Pogacar has put the frighteners up Jumbo-Visma in the GC classification. Stunning.
1km to go: This is quite the role reversal from yesterday! Seventeen seconds now between Vingegaard and Pogacar. The latter was seen as wounded, especially after the struggles yesterday. Pogacar looked like he was holding on for dear life, but it appears the two-time champion was just biding his time. Amazing.
2km to go: Pogacar suddenly takes off, like he found a burst of nitros in his rear wheel. And Vingegaard has no answer! Pogacar opens a gap of 10 seconds over his rival. This is absolutely stunning racing.
3km to go: It’s a waiting game. Pogacar on Vingegaard’s wheel.
4km to go: Van Aert is finished. He’s absolutely emptied the tank and almost comes to a complete standstill, as fans try to push him up the mountain. Vingegaard attacks! Pogacar is with him, leaving the five others, including Guerreiro and Shaw, in their wake. Johannessen threatens to hold on, but he can’t. It’s down to just two men.
5km to go: Powless can’t hang on. He drops from the leading pack, which is now seven strong.
Remember, he still leads the KoM standings, which look like this after Tourmalet.
1. Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), 36
2. Felix Gall (Ag2r-Citröen), 28
3. Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar Team), 23
4. Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X), 20
5. Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek), 19
6. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), 18
7. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), 17
8. Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers), 15
6km to go: We’re approaching the steepest part of the climb, with some parts north of 10%. This is where Vingegaard could make his move. How will Pogacar react?
7km to go: For the second consecutive day, Van Aert has been awarded the combativity prize. Shock.
8km to go: The group containing the yellow jersey, Hindley, as well as the Yates brothers, Kuss, Bardet and others, are around 2min30secs adrift of the leaders.
9km to go: Fans swarm onto the road to push their heroes up the mountain and around the hairpin bends. Powless threatens to fall off the back of the leaders, but finds some energy and regains his position.
10km to go: This is insane from Van Aert. How does he have the legs for this?
12km to go: So who do you fancy? Vingegaard or Pogacar. They are flying up the final climb of the day, an average of 5% at 30-40km/hr. Expect Vingegaard to attack when things get a little steeper in the final kilometres.
15km to go: No change at the tête de la course. Jumbo-Visma’s Van Aert and Vingegaard lead the breakaway group, who have started the ascent to Cauterets-Cambasque.
To put Vingegaard’s climb at the Tourmalet into context, he took two minutes from David Gauda’s record:
17km to go: The leaders are actually putting time into the peloton, and have stretched their lead to around 2min38secs. It doesn’t appear that the peloton will challenge at the finish line.
19km to go: Britain’s James Shaw is getting a lot of encouragement from his EF Education-EasyPost radio. “You have some of the best legs in the world. You are in this”.
22km to go: So we expect Van Aert to lead out and set the pace for the leaders, which Jumbo-Visma will hope lay the foundations for Vingegaard to pip Pogacar. After yesterday’s toil for the Slovenian, it will be very interesting what is in his legs. Pogacar will wait for the attack, and react when he can.
26km to go: Vingegaard, Pogacar and Van Aert catch the leaders. The group is now eight strong and they have a lead of two minutes over the peloton. With the descent now finished, there is a brief period of riding on the flat before the last ascent to Cauterets-Cambasque, the first altitude finish of this year’s race. It is nowhere near as severe as Tourmalet, but could still spark some separation.
32km to go: Vingegaard and Pogacar are closing on the leaders, who are now just four after Van Aert dropped back. This is the current state of play, courtesy of the Tour De France website.
In the lead
Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar), Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X)
Seven seconds behind
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates), Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost)
At 2 minutes
Jai Hindley, Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates), Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla), Carlos Rodriguez, Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Romain Bardet (dsm-firmenich), Felix Gall (Ag2r-Citröen)
38km to go: An email from Alex Whitney.
While I think there’s an element of testing Pogacar to take advantage before he grows into better form, it seems to me that Vingegaard is a much different rider than last year and I suspect much of that comes down to confidence. He seems much more willing to approach his limits climbing, rather than playing it safe as he did much of last year’s Tour until Roglic broke Pogacar on the Col du Granon.
I would agree with that. Vingegaard is the aggressor here.
40km: Behind the leaders, Vingegaard and Pogacar follow, around 30 seconds behind. Around two minutes behind the GC contenders come the peloton, with Hindley and Yates among them. That distance means that Vingegaard is now the virtual holder of the yellow jersey. Big, big moves.
47km to go: Elbows at the summit! Johannessen gets a barge from Movistar’s Ruben Guerreiro, but it is the Norwegian who is the first of the five to cross the line at the Tourmalet. Five remain in the breakaway group: Johannessen, Guerreiro, Kwiatkowski, Shaw and Van Aert fly down the descent, underneath chair lifts and through the barren mountain-top terrain. They are doing 80km/hr down the hill.
47km: Meanwhile, in the breakaway, Van Aert is pushing hard to reach the summit. The leaders are losing time on Vingegaard and Pogacar, but they should reach the summit first. The crowd are going absolutely crazy, with French president Emmanual Macron also there to take in the party.
48km: Vingegaard goes again! A big right-hand hairpin and the Dane sprints up the last 2km of the Tourmalet. It’s one-on-one as Kuss drops off: Vingegaard versus Pogacar, who is just about hanging on as they zoom towards the leading back, now just a minute back from the breakaway. Vingegaard and Pogacar whistle past Alaphilippe, who is dropping back from the leaders. This is real racing.
49km: Pogacar holds on, he’s able to track Vingegaard and Jumbo-Visma teammate Sepp Kuss! But Yates and Hindley can’t hold on!
50km to go: Here we go! This is the attack we were waiting for. The peloton are into the last few km of the Tourmalet climb, and Vingegaard leads off the attack, with Pogacar and Hindley desperately trying to hand onto the Dane’s wheel.
51km to go: Jumbo-Visma also lead the peloton. It seems they are trying to put the boot into Pogacar, who struggled yesterday.
Meanwhile, at the head of the course four kilometres before the summit, Michael Woods (who is in GC contention) and Julian Alaphilippe gets dropped.
52km to go: Van Aert is doing an awful lot of work at the head of the breakaway group. You wonder how long he can keep this up for. We’re into the hardest part of the Tourmalet climb now, around 6km from the summit. The leading group is 10 strong, around 3min41secs ahead of the peloton.
56km to go: Mathieu van der Poel is dropped, he failed to keep pace with that little burst from Alaphilippe and Shaw. The leading group is 13 riders strong, and they hold about a 4min30sec lead over the peloton, where Vingegaard lurks. The Dane looks very comfortable, Will he make a move today, or keep his powder dry?
57km: Ah. Nope. With the gradient at 9%, Van Aert and co catch Alaphilippe and Shaw, who humbly shuffle back into the leading group.
57km to go: Alaphilippe breaks away from the leaders! Britain’s James Shaw follows but it’s still very early for there to be a genuine attack. Around 10km to the top of the Tourmalet, and that’s a lot of kilometres. But the duo have got a little gap, let’s see if they can maintain or grow it!
58km to go: A near miss for overall leader Jai Hindley! His Bora-hansgrohe collected a water bottle, tried to pass it to the yellow jersey rider but dropped it! The bottle bounced on the tarmac and thankfully slid right between the wheels of Hindlay, and surely could have unseated the Australian in the peloton. That could have been disastrous, but Hindlay just shakes his head in relief and continues up the ascent.
62km to go: And so, the 17km climb begins, at an average gradient of 7.3%, although the maximum gradient is a ridiculous 18%. Altitude is definitely a factor. They started their climb at 880m, and the summit is at 2,115m, before a 47km run to the finish line, descending the Tourmalet and then back up to Cauterets-Cambasque.
65km to go: The breakaway have stretched their lead in the descent, up to around 4min20secs. They now have started their ascent up the Tourmalet, the most visited mountain on the Tour.
Here is the virtual KOM classification after Col d’Aspin:
1. Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), 30
2. Felix Gall (Ag2r-Citröen), 28
3. Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek), 19
4. Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), 18
5. Daniel Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers), 15
Here’s how Powless did it at the top.
72km to go: The Tour has just reached the 1,000km mark across these five and half stages. The peloton has also reached the top of the Col d’Aspin, around 3min25secs back. Both breakaway and peloton make their descent before the big one: the Tourmalet.