Jonas Vingegaard put the hammer down on the Tour de France on Thursday, extending his lead massively with an awe-inspiring victory in the final mountain stage as defending champion Tadej Pogacar’s all-in strategy backfired.
You can rewatch STAGE 18 HERE
Vingegaard went solo some four kilometres from the finish at Hautacam after massive work from his Jumbo-Visma team mates, Pogacar slowly disappearing from his rear-view mirror and crossing the line in second, one minute and four seconds behind.
Pogacar now trails the Dane by 3:26 ahead of Saturday’s individual time trial after a flat 19th stage on Friday.
The Slovenian threw everything at Vingegaard in the penultimate climb to the Col de Spandelles, also throwing caution to the wind in the descent on a gruelling 143.2km trek from Lourdes.
Pogacar crashed after Vingegaard also came close to hitting the deck and after the duo called a brief truce, the strongest climber prevailed where his compatriot Bjarne Riis produced in 1996 one of the most astonishing efforts ever seen on the Tour.
“I won the stage and I’m happy about it. There’s still two stages and the time trial. I have not won the Tour yet, we have to take it day by day,” Vingegaard said after his second stage win of the race.
“Today Jumbo were so strong. I tried, I went all in for the yellow but in the end when I crashed I lost a bit of motivation for the final climb but I still pushed my limits. I’m proud of what I did today,” he said.
Pogacar attacked about six kilometres from the top of the Col de Spandelles but Vingegaard followed, barely getting out of the saddle in a stunning show of power and control.
The Slovenian went for it again four more times on that climb with Vingegaard always covering and the duo whizzed past Geraint Thomas, who had gone solo earlier.
The 2018 champion again limited the damage, taking fourth place, 2:54 off the pace to all but ensure he would finish on the podium in Paris.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider is 8 minutes behind Vingegaard, but holds a comfortable 3:05 lead over fourth-placed David Gaudu.