Overall leader Tadej Pogacar again proved his dominance on the Tour de France as he won a second consecutive mountain stage on Thursday and said “it’s a game for me.”
The UAE rider out-ran his two closest rivals, Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz, just as he did on the previous day’s mountaintop finale.
The 2020 champion continued the most dominant run in recent Tour memory. The peloton left Pau under a shadow Thursday after a overnight anti-doping raid on the Bahrain-Victorious team at their hotel. But by the time an Ineos quartet were leading the remnants of the pack up the final climb of this Tour de France, the focus was on the possible challenges to the leader on the road.
With 1.5 miles left Pogacar, Vingegaard and Carapaz were again left to cross swords in the battle to the finish. It was quickly settled. Pogacar raced ahead with ease over the last mile and slowed down as he crossed the line for his third stage win on this edition.
“I felt good and I’m really happy with the win. It’s a game for me, I’m enjoying playing it,” said the 22-year-old.
The Slovenian UAE team leader then turned his attention to the time-trial on Saturday.
“You can lose six minutes over 18 miles like that,” he said. Pogacar leads the Dane Vingegaard by almost six minutes with Carapaz right on the Jumbo man’s tail in third with three stages left, a flat run Friday, the time-trial and Sunday’s parade into Paris
TOUR DE FRANCE STAGE 18 RESULTS
|1||POGACAR Tadej||UAE-Team Emirates||3:33:45|
|2||VINGEGAARD Jonas||Team Jumbo-Visma||0:02|
|3||CARAPAZ Richard||INEOS Grenadiers||0:02|
|4||MAS Enric||Movistar Team||0:13|
|5||MARTIN Dan||Israel Start-Up Nation||0:24|
|6||KUSS Sepp||Team Jumbo-Visma||0:30|
|7||HIGUITA Sergio||EF Education – Nippo||0:33|
|8||O’CONNOR Ben||AG2R Citroën Team||0:34|
|9||KELDERMAN Wilco||BORA – hansgrohe||0:34|
|10||VALVERDE Alejandro||Movistar Team||0:40|
|1||POGACAR Tadej||UAE-Team Emirates||75:00:02|
|2||VINGEGAARD Jonas||Team Jumbo-Visma||5:45|
|3||CARAPAZ Richard||INEOS Grenadiers||5:51|
|4||O’CONNOR Ben||AG2R Citroën Team||8:18|
|5||KELDERMAN Wilco||BORA – hansgrohe||8:50|
|6||MAS Enric||Movistar Team||10:11|
|7||LUTSENKO Alexey||Astana – Premier Tech||11:22|
|8||MARTIN Guillaume||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||12:46|
|9||BILBAO Pello||Bahrain – Victorious||13:48|
|10||URÁN Rigoberto||EF Education – Nippo||16:25|
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini