Tadej Pogacar claimed victory in the 17th stage of the Tour de France but it was Jonas Vingegaard who came a step closer to the title as he finished on the defending champion’s wheel to retain the overall leader’s yellow jersey on Wednesday.
You can rewatch STAGE 17 HERE
Pogacar’s late acceleration at the top of the final climb, a 8-km effort at 7.8%, earned him his third win in this year’s Tour and gave him a 10-second time bonus.
Vingegaard, however, picked up six seconds with his second place, meaning he still leads the Slovenian by a comfortable two minutes and 18 seconds going into Thursday final mountain stage, a gruelling Pyrenean trek to Hautacam.
Geraint Thomas, the 2018 champion, again limited the damage to finish fourth behind Pogacar’s UAE Emirates team mate Brandon McNulty and cement his third place in the general classification as the final podium took shape.
Thomas, who crossed the line 2:07 behind Pogacar, lags 4:56 off Vingegaard’s pace in the overall standings.
The stage was yet another opportunity for Pogacar to make the Danish rider crack, but last year’s runner-up Vingegaard looked unflappable through the three category-one ascents peppering the second part of the 129.7-km ride from Saint Gaudens.
It was only in the final metres that Pogacar took a slight advantage on a ramp at 13% to take the day’s laurels but he now faces a seemingly insurmountable task with only Thursday’s stage and Saturday’s final time trial to overturn the situation.
“I fought until the finish. Of course I lost four seconds but I’m still happy,” said Vingegaard. “We never know when Tadej will attack, often he attacks when you least expect it. You just need to be vigilant and I was today.”
Pogacar, who lost another two team mates after Marc Soler finished outside the time limit on Tuesday and Rafal Majka pulled out injured in the morning, showed he would not go down without a fight.
“I don’t think (Vingegaard) is too strong. It was a good day for us. We were strong as a team even if there’s just four of us (left in the team). We stay positive and today’s victory gives us a lot of motivation for tomorrow,” Pogacar said. “We still have means to fight and we will give everything to get the yellow jersey back.”