Tour de France – 18th stage: Tadej Pogacar, leaves or doubles at Hautacam

In Peyragudes, Tadej Pogacar played who wins loses. Winner of the 17th stage by overcoming Jonas Vingegaard on the final ramp at the altiport, first thanks to the phenomenal work of his teammates, Brandon McNulty in the lead, then at his top speed, the Slovenian however still did not failed to unclamp the yellow jersey. If his handicap has gone from 2’22” to 2’18”, it is only through bonuses on the finish line. But he would need more, much more, to have a chance of winning a third consecutive Tour. But time is against him.

Thursday, in Hautacam, this 109th edition will put an end to the mountain. If Pogacar does not significantly reduce the gap, it will be over. Admittedly, you should never say never and if anyone has proven that he is capable of overturning the table in the last time trial, it is him. But in 2020, he was only 57 seconds behind Primoz Roglic before the time of the Planche des Belles Filles, significantly less than the 138 which separate him today from Vingegaard. In short, for ‘Pogi’, it is in Hautacam or never if he wants to erase the tenacious slate of Granon, which he has been dragging around like a job for a big week.

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The profile, the timetables, the map: All you need to know about the 18th stage


Did he run for the stage or the final victory on Wednesday?

Does he believe in it himself? Officially, yes. “I remain optimistic for the rest of the Tour and for the victory, I always have been“, he said Wednesday in Peyragudes. Whether he is really convinced of it or whether it is a laborious application of the Coué method, it does not matter. But the reality is there. Pogacar no longer has the choice and it is not with bonuses that he can hope to go (re) seek the yellow jersey.Wednesday, Brandon McNulty, despite his big number, served the purposes of Jonas Vingegaard almost as much as those of its leader.”I was thinking of attacking morehe admitted, but it was still a good day, I gave it my all.”

We will not go so far as to say that the Dane had fun in the wheel of the two UAE Emirates but, in fact, he was never attacked or worried. In view of the final victory, and not only that of the day, it is especially for the strongman of the Jumbo Visma that the day was good. Moreover, one can wonder if the strategy of Tadej Pogacar and his absence of banderillas against the Scandinavian bull did not reveal a certain admission of weakness. Didn’t he run more to win the stage than for the yellow jersey?

Pogacar: “I wanted this stage, and I remain optimistic for the yellow jersey”

Still as serene, Jonas Vingegaard knows that he passed an important new milestone on Wednesday, even if he said to himself “disappointed not to have managed to win“.”But todayhe added, the final incline was very explosive and suited Tadej much better than me. I wanted to do a longer sprint. I didn’t have much more to do and he deserves his victory“. Immediately, he warns: “Hautacam suits me better“. At the same time, Pogacar proclaimed for his part that “the Hautacam stage is more conducive to widening gaps. Tomorrow (Thursday) we will have another strategy.”

With “if”…

In short, the duel, against a background of intox, is also played out by interposed microphones. But we can turn the problem around in every way, we can see why and how the double title holder could succeed in the last battle at altitude where he has always failed for eight days. On the slopes of the Alpe, in Mende, or in the two Pyrenean stages, he has already tried almost everything. Sharp accelerations on the last climb, an attack from a distance, making a full descent, or betting on an ultra high tempo of his teammates. What will be this famous “other strategy” evoked for Hautacam?

Vingegaard: “The final victory? I don’t want to think about it, there are three very difficult days left”

Tadej Pogacar is strong, no doubt about it, although it is debatable that he is as strong as last summer. His problem is not to be stronger than Vingegaard. But since he drank the cup and conceded three minutes at the top of the Granon, leveling off with his rival is no longer enough. “So far Jonas has shown he’s very strong, he’s not able to crackhe acknowledges. But today, if we had had our full team with Rafal Majka, Marc Soler, George Bennett, we could have made the race harder and made Jonas crack. We’ve had so much bad luck the last few days. If everything had been normal, we would still have the strongest team.” But with “if”…

In Aubisque, Spandelles then in Hautacam, there will be no excuses or “if”. Just a mission to accomplish. Unhook, finally, and in a significant way, the yellow plaster from Denmark. “There is still an opportunity to try again. We’ll see if he has a weakness. ” Nothing is ever sure in life like on the Tour but, to be honest, we would not put all our savings on this scenario.

The victory and the bonus ‘: Pogacar consoles himself in front of Vingegaard

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