Workforce UAE Emirates obliterated the Tour de France peloton with a tempo so relentlessly excessive they turned stage 17 into essentially the most brutal but, leaving massive names scattered and gasping for air alongside the baking roads of the Pyrenees, and establishing a hard-earned victory for Tadej Pogacar on the Peyragudes summit. However the one man they most needed to crack, the yellow jersey of Jonas Vingegaard, clung on gamely to Pogacar’s wheel all through the blitz of tempo and ache, and regardless of all the things his general lead stays nearly intact.
The day began badly for Pogacar with the information that his key mountain lieutenant, Rafal Majka, had withdrawn after tearing a thigh muscle when his chain broke throughout stage 16. However what was left of UAE Emirates attacked regardless, as if this was the final throw of the cube, with the younger Dane Mikkel Bjerg shattering the peloton with an unlimited activate the entrance over the primary two climbs and the American Brandon McNulty doing likewise all the best way to the gruelling end.
One after the other, the succesful climbers dropped away: Adam Yates, Romain Bardet, Nairo Quintana, Alpe d’Huez winner Tom Pidcock, and even Vingegaard’s bodyguard within the mountains Sepp Kuss, leaving the yellow jersey remoted and doubtlessly weak. McNulty’s tempo continued the assault into the penultimate climb the place Geraint Thomas was lastly shedded too, finally ending fourth.
It left McNulty to guide his teammate Pogacar into battle with Vingegaard within the closing throes. Over the previous few days Pogacar has attacked seemingly at random, immediately surging in an effort to catch his rival both sleeping or struggling, with out success. He tried just one burst right here to which the imperious Vingegaard reacted immediately, and after that the three of them climbed to Peyragudes collectively in convoy led by McNulty, by means of a throng of raucous followers on the street.
With 100 yards left, McNulty – who collected the day’s combativity prize for his mammoth effort – lastly moved apart and left the 2 excellent riders of this Tour to a straight combat for the stage win. Vingegaard launched first however Pogacar got here across the exterior and confirmed a final burst of pace to the road, the place he raised each arms aloft as a damaged Vingegaard collapsed on to his handlebars within the background.
“The best way the workforce rode as we speak, we have been solely 4 riders, and to take the stage win is unimaginable,” Pogacar mentioned. “Mikkel rode like a climber as we speak, he set such an excellent tempo, it was unbelievable. I felt good with that tempo. After which Brandon did an incredible job, a particular point out to him.
“I gave completely all the things. I do know that I must win, there’s no different approach. I gave all of it for the workforce to the road, and I’m so glad.”
It was Pogacar’s third stage win of this Tour, pipping Vingegaard in virtually an identical style to the climax of stage seven atop La Planche des Belles Filles. However these slim victories add as much as little or no set in opposition to Vingegaard’s bruising stage 11 win on the Col du Granon, the place Pogacar cracked and misplaced almost three minutes.
That will show the decisive second of this Tour, when the Slovenian succumbed to Jumbo-Visma’s pincer technique and paid the value for his makes an attempt to punch again. Vingegaard misplaced solely 4 bonus seconds right here, and he stays 2 min 18 sec forward general.
“I fought till the end,” mentioned Vingegaard, who stands on the verge of successful his first Tour de France after ending runner-up to Pogacar final 12 months. “In fact I misplaced 4 seconds however I’m nonetheless glad. We by no means know when Tadej will assault, typically he assaults if you least anticipate it. You simply have to be vigilant and I used to be as we speak.”
Ineos felt the warmth with Yates, Pidcock and Daniel Martinez all dropping contact, however the 2018 champion Thomas battled on longer than virtually everybody else and is well-placed to earn the third podium of his Tour de France profession. The Welshman defined that he wanted to take it straightforward at sure moments or danger blowing up, and credited the extraoardinary effort put in by UAE Workforce Emirates. “Who received?” Thomas requested on the end. Pogacar, got here the reply. “Effectively they deserved that, then.”
Thursday’s stage 18 is much more demanding, on paper a minimum of, with three large mountain climbs together with the hors catégorie Col d’Aubisque and a summit end on Hautacam. Given stage 19 is one for the sprinters, and the time trial on stage 20 presents solely restricted scope to regain time, Pogacar and his remaining comrades should throw all the things at lastly cracking Vingegaard within the excessive mountains tomorrow.
Does Pogacar nonetheless imagine he can win the Tour? “Sure. I’m optimistic. I don’t suppose [Vingegaard] is just too robust. We nonetheless have means to combat and we are going to give all the things to get the yellow jersey again.
“Tomorrow is a extra arduous day,” he added, with the faintest whisper of a smile. “We will strive once more tomorrow.”
Stage 17 outcome
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Workforce Emirates 3hrs 25mins 51secs
2 Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma at similar time
3 Brandon McNulty (USA) UAE Workforce Emirates +32
4 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) INEOS Grenadiers +02:07
5 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Workforce +02:34
Normal classification standings
1 Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 67hrs 53mins 54secs
2 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Workforce Emirates +02:18
3 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) INEOS Grenadiers +04:56
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Workforce Arkea-Samsic +07:53
5 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ +07:57
6 Romain Bardet (Fra) Workforce DSM +09:21
7 Louis Meintjes (Rsa) Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert +09:24
8 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) BORA-hansgrohe +09:56
9 Adam Yates (Gbr) INEOS Grenadiers +14:33
10 Enric Mas (Spa) Movistar Workforce +16:35