On the hill immediately before the last one, Pogacar had attacked the leader, Jonas Vingegaard, but Vingegaard had countered. They were approaching the summit of the Tour’s last significant ascent at this point. Pogacar was aware that Thursday’s stage presented his last and best opportunity to close the gap between him and Vingegaard, which stood at 2 minutes and 18 seconds at that point in the race but would be reduced to just over a minute and a half if he won the time trial and the largely flat stage that came before it before Sunday’s traditional celebratory ride into Paris.
However, his ultimate assault never materialised. Instead, the Hautacam was successful in defeating Pogacar. At the three and a half mile mark, he moved stealthily behind Vingegaard and his Jumbo-Visma colleague Wout van Aert, who was pacing him. There were just a few hundred yards left. Soon after that, Van Aert stepped over to make room for Vingegaard, who was wearing the yellow jersey of the race leader. Vingegaard then began a solo climb to the summit of the peak.
Instead of Pogacar cutting into his advantage, Vingegaard had increased it, won the stage by a margin of 1:04 and virtually likely claiming the title of Tour de France champion. After taking into account certain bonus seconds, he is now in the lead over Pogacar by a total margin of 3:26 that is essentially impenetrable. This puts him in position to win his first Tour at the age of 25.
“I was simply pleased that it finally finished,” Vingegaard said of Thursday’s last mountain stage, which was the 18th of 21 days of racing in the Tour. The Tour consists of a total of 21 days of competition.
Pogacar, who was hunting for any opening, and Vingegaard, who was monitoring his every move, flew downward together before the major climb. There had been two moments of drama on the descent that occurred before the major climb. When Vingegaard was navigating a gravelly road, he began to wobble and was very close to falling. In order to preserve his balance, he had to lift one foot off of his pedals.
Pogacar did end up falling only a few seconds later, but he got right back up on his bike and continued riding as if nothing had happened to him. Vingegaard slowed down to enable Pogacar to catch up to him in a display of sportsmanship that was rewarded with a handshake between the competitors when Pogacar once again caught up to Vingegaard.
Pogacar, according to Vingegaard, may have “sort of missed the bend,” and as a result, “he skidded down into the gravel.” After that, he attempted to manoeuvre it out, but the bike vanished from beneath him as he did so. After that, I sat and waited for him.
Pogacar was widely considered to be the rider to beat going into the Tour de France due to the fact that he had won two races in a row before to the competition. This year, he did everything correctly to take the lead in the race, but he ended up losing it in the Alps when Vingegaard attacked on the Col du Granon. On the legendary slopes of L’Alpe d’Huez, Vingegaard maintained his lead, giving Pogacar little opportunity to retake the position and win the race.
Vingegaard, of Denmark, should have no problem keeping that lead through a flat stage on Friday, a time trial on Saturday, and the ceremonial cruise to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, provided that there is no accident, sickness, or other misfortune in the closing few days of the race.