photo credits @ ASO
Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) rode his way back into contention today, after the Slovenian rider dropped his chief rival Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) to claim stage 6 of the Tour de France in Cauterets.
While, Vingegaard was successful in dethroning Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) of the yellow jersey after a searing attack on the Col du Tourmalet, the Danish rider couldn’t respond to Pogačar’s aggressions, who commenced an attack of his own with just under 3 kilometers to go, reaching the summit almost 30 seconds ahead of Vingegaard.
As a result, Vingegaard lies just 25 seconds ahead of Pogačar in the overall standing, while Hindley is third at 1:34.
With 50 kilometers remaining, the Jumbo-Visma duo of Wilco Kelderman and Sepp Kuss increased the pace for Vingegaard, quickly distancing race leader Hindley as Pogačar followed alone.
Vingegaard was soon free to attack and dropped the hammer. But, unlike yesterday’s bruising attack, he could not shake Pogačar, as the two pre-race favorites set off together in pursuit of the breakaway.
With Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) up the road having attacked from the outset to get in the break, the Belgian rider waited to sweep up Vingegaard and Pogačar before powering them to the front group.
From there, Van Aert remained out front until the final 5 kilometers before pulling off, letting the two main protagonists to go clear.
However, the biggest twist was yet to come, as Pogačar blasted clear with 2.7 kilometers to go, a move that left Vingegaard unable to respond.
Van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step) went clear right after the start, with the duo later being joined by James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Nikias Arndt (Bahrain-Victorious), Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën), Bryan Coquard (Cofidis), Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X), Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar), Tobias Halland Johhanessen (Uno-X) and Chris Juul-Jensen (Jayco-AlUla).
Michał Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Matis Louvel (Arkéa-Samsic) and Krists Neilands (Israel-Premier Tech) later bridged their way to the group, followed by Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-Quick Step), Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar), Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën) and Anthony Perez (Cofidis).
Powless took the two points atop the early climb, the third category Côte de Capvern-les-Bains, slightly reducing his ten point deficit to overnight KOM leader Felix Gall (Ag2r Citroën).
Meanwhile, Coquard’s presence in the break enabled him to take the full 20 points for the intermediate sprint at Sarrancolin.
From there, the breakaway tackled the Col d’Aspin, with Van Aert leading the way while Powless beat Guerrero to the summit to reclaim the virtual lead in the KOM competition.
As the leaders hit the foothills of the Tourmalet, an impatient Alaphilippe decided to attack with just under 60 kilometers to go, dragging Shaw along with him.
However, Van Aert was successful in reining the duo back in, while Alaphilippe cracked several kilometers later.
Van Aert continued to tap away at a metronomic pace at the front of the break, while back in the peloton his Jumbo-Visma teammates were busy turning up the pace, putting riders such as Michael Woods (Israel-Premier Tech) in trouble, with more riders later going into the red when the Dutch team accelerated near the summit.
With 4 kilometers still to go before the summit, Hindley cracked, with only Sepp Kuss, Vingegaard and Pogačar left to try and reel in the lead group.
Vingegaard surged hard, but was immediately marked by Pogačar. In contrast to stage five, the Slovenian was able to remain glued to his rival over the summit.
Shortly thereafter, Powless was caught by Vingegaard and Pogačar, while Van Aert sat up and waited for Vingegaard.
In the meantime, the Hindley group had slipped back to almost three minutes behind with just under 10 kilometers to go. Powless began to struggle soon afterwards, but the American rider managed to claw his way back.
Van Aert continued tapping out a steady pace alone the final part of the climb, trying both to exhaust Pogačar while also keeping Hindley’s group at bay.
Vingegaard attacked with 4.6 kilometers remaining, but Pogačar was fast to mark his move, while Kwiatkowski was able to get back on terms with the duo.
However, Pogačar later launched his winning move, quickly dropping Vingegaard and opening up a gap that proved insurmountable for the defending champion.
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