Tadej Pogacar won his third stage of this edition of the Tour de France this Wednesday. The Slovenian, champion of the last two editions of the French round, reached the final ramp of Peyragudes alongside Jonas Vingegaard, a solid yellow jersey and the only cyclist who can rival or even surpass Pogacar in the high mountains. Behind the rest of the mortals, Britain’s Geraint Thomas has further consolidated his third place in the standings, where he is already almost three minutes ahead of Quintana, Gaudu, Bardet and Co., the main contenders for the podium in Paris.
Minutes earlier, a few kilometers from there, towards Val Louron-Azet, the penultimate port of the day, only Brandon McNulty could withstand the pace of the two colossi of this Tour: Vingegaard and Pogacar. The young American, who has been the Slovenian’s team-mate in the United Arab Emirates since 2020, was the sole survivor of a purge of the domestiques – the latest victims, those of Marc Soler and Rafal Majka – which saw the Slovenians and the Danes in an intensified duel for the Yellows left Jersey in the Pyrenees.
Pogacar tried before the last climb but Vingegaard reacted and the Slovenian preferred to wait for McNulty, his only ally for the all-or-nothing at Peyragudes, an 8km long face with an average gradient of 7.8%.
At the bottom of the piste, the defending champion, running out of options, kept his forces behind McNulty. Vingegaard, in yellow, was the Slovenian’s shadow for another day. The gaze rested on his back, white jersey and back on the hump. Without peeling off.
Arriving at the final wall, already without McNulty, Vingegaard was strong enough to try a few yards from the finish line, but then it was Pogacar who reacted. Like a few days ago in the Super Planche des Belles Filles, the Slovenian overtook the jumbo driver in the last few meters and crossed the finish line in front. arms up and four bonus seconds; consolation, finally.
This Thursday, Pogacar has a new opportunity, this time on the Hautacam wall, the final mountain finish of the Tour. There, the Italian Vincenzo Nibali already condemned his victory in 2014 in yellow. Vingegaard will try to do the same. He doesn’t trust Pogacar. Less if possible ahead of Saturday’s time trial, just before Paris. Pleasant memories for the UAE, indelible nightmare for the jumbo.