Pogačar bags stage win, remains second overall

Pau – Cyclist Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) won the 17th stage of Tour de France, which took the cyclists up four mountain passes in the Pyrenees. This was the second of a total of three Pyrenees stages which many believe are Pogačar’s last chance to reclaim the yellow jersey before the end of the grand tour on Sunday.

The two-time Tour winner reduced his gap to Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo Visma) to 2 minutes and 18 seconds after having lost two more team members following yesterday’s stage.

Nevertheless, his remaining two domestiques Mikel Bjerg and Brandon Mcnulty performed a massive job today, isolating Vingegaard from his teammates on the penultimate climb. Still, they were unable to shake Vingegaard and it took a close uphill sprint for Pogačar to win the stage.

“Bjerg and McNulty did a fantastic job today and I wanted to repay them with a stage win,” Pogačar said. “The stage win was my maximum today. It is truly unbelievable that I won after the withdrawals of Majka and Soler,” Pogačar said, referring to Rafal Majka, who did not start today due to a muscle injury, and Marc Soler, who did not finish yesterday’s stage due to digestive problems.

“When we saw that Jonas was good, we only focused on the stage win. I am happy and tomorrow is another day during which I will try to come closer to Vingegaard.”

“Too bad Rafal and George Bennett were not here today, if they had been, we could have done something big,” said Pogačar, referring to another UAE team member. Bennett was sent home after contracting Covid-19. “Everything seemed to be falling apart these past days, but today we showed we’re still strong. I remain optimistic and tomorrow we’ll try again.”

This was the third stage win for Pogačar on this Tour de France and ninth overall. He claimed the yellow jersey in stage six this year but lost it to Vingegaard in stage 11, accumulating a gap of over 2 minutes on the climb to the Col du Granon mountain pass.