COL DU GRANON, France
The first major mountain stage shook things up at the Tour de France as defending champion Tadej Pogacar withered towards the end of Wednesday’s 11th stage and lost the yellow jersey.
Jonas Vingaard and his Jumbo-Visma team were the big winners of the stage as the Danish rider won the famous jersey from Pogacar, the two-time defending champion who had been the dominant rider until now but cracked during the final ascent on Wednesday and fell more than 2 minutes late.
Vingegaard and his teammates put on an impressive collective display throughout the day, with clever early-race tactics and multiple attacks that ultimately unsettled Pogacar.
Vingegaard pulled away from Pogacar on the brutal climb to the top of the Col du Granon to enjoy a winning finish to an epic day in the Alps. The 152 kilometer stage featured two other monster climbs, the fearsome Col du Télégraphe and Col du Galibier.
It was Vingaard’s first stage win at cycling’s biggest race. The Danish rider was vice-champion last year in the general classification behind Pogacar.
“When I attacked I felt he was going to crack,” Vingaard said. “This time I wanted the victory. And I succeeded, and now I have the yellow jersey to keep fighting until Paris.”
Vingaard was first at the top, 59 seconds ahead of Nairo Quintana, with Romain Bardet in third place, 1h10 behind. Geraint Thomas, the 2018 Tour winner, was fourth, 1:38 off the pace.
After 11 stages, Vingaard is ahead of Bardet by 2 minutes, 16 seconds. Pogacar moved up to third place, at 2:22.
Along with teammate Primoz Roglic, Vingaard relentlessly attacked Pogacar in the air. But whenever they tried to isolate the UAE-Emirates team leader on the Galibier – the highest point of this year’s course at 2,642 meters above sea level – the Slovenian rider responded calmly.
Pogacar even smiled at the television cameras at the foot of the grueling final climb. Guided by his teammate Rafal Majka, Pogacar rode at the top of the group of main contenders, but the attrition work of the Jumbo-Visma pilots finally paid off.
“On the Galibier, above, he was very strong,” said Vingaard. “I wasn’t sure if he was full or not. Then I thought if I didn’t try my hardest I was never going to win. And of course a second place, it’s good, but I already did it last year.”
When Vingaard attacked again with 5 kilometers to go, Pogacar simply couldn’t respond and was dropped. With his yellow jersey wide open, the battered champion struggled to the end.
Vingaard said the team’s strategy for the day was planned months in advance, with the aim of making the most of their strong squad.
“We thought it would go in my favor and in favor of Primoz,” he said. “I took a long time today, and I never would have done it without my teammates. They have been amazing.
Pogacar will only have one night’s sleep to recover from his bad day as Thursday’s stage 12 is another gigantic stage with three hors category climbs, including a finish at the top of the Alpe d’Alpe ski resort. ‘Boo.
“I want revenge,” said Pogacar. “It’s not over yet.”
The Tour ends on July 24 in Paris.
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