Lennard Kämna doggedly struggled up the super steep and dusty Super Planche des Belles Filles, but the dream of winning the stage was shattered 100 meters from the finish. Dominator and stage winner Tadej Pogacar and day second Jonas Vingegaard rushed past Kämna in the 24 percent steep finale, who ended up fourth behind Primoz Roglic on the seventh stage of the Tour de France.

“It was really hard, especially the last piece. Then Vingegaard attacked, he was so strong. But my team worked so hard all day. And my girlfriend finished, I couldn’t disappoint her. That’s why I really wanted to win. I wanted to win this a long time ago,” said Pogacar, who was rewarded with a kiss from girlfriend Urska at the finish.

“In cycling you have to use every opportunity to gain time,” added the Slovenian, who is now 35 seconds ahead of Vingegaard in the overall standings. Geraint Thomas is third, 1:10 minutes back. The day before, Pogacar not only won the longest stage of the tour at 220 kilometers, but also secured the yellow jersey. Kämna’s captain Alexander Wlassow received a sensitive setback of more than a minute and slipped out of the top ten in the overall standings. This should also make the podium a mammoth task for the Russian.

At the foot of the Super Planche des Belles Filles, Maximilian Schachmann had positioned his teammate Kämna as part of a leading group, followed only by Belgian Dylan Teuns and Simon Geschke. First Geschke attacked, the Berliner pulled away a bit. Kämna tactically stayed on Teuns’ rear wheel. Only five kilometers before the summit did the North German start again, jumped from Teuns to Geschke and left the German veteran behind with another start a little later.

The German team Bora-hansgrohe announced days ago that they wanted to send a driver to the breakaway group. Said and done. It took the first 50 kilometers of the race for a group to stand still. But then there were Schachmann and Kämna as well as the Cofidis professional Geschke in a group of seven. The lead quickly grew to almost three minutes and Schachmann virtually drove in the yellow jersey.

Apparently Pogacar didn’t like that and he let his team work in the field. The lead shrank to just under two minutes and stayed there for a few kilometers. Then Kämna and Schachmann attacked before the first climb of the day, the Col de Grosse Pierre. Although the group finally drove back together, the pace remained high. Pogacar’s team worked at the back of the pack, but the leading group pulled away by more than three minutes. With a lead of about one and a half minutes, we started the final ascent.

The Jumbo-Visma team around Jonas Vingegaard, who came second last year, behaved much more cautiously until the final climb. After the sixth stage, Schachmann had massively criticized the team’s driving style, especially their star Primoz Roglic. “In any case, Jumbo needs to get his act together a bit. Roglic caused this fall again because they just drive like broken ones for the last few centimeters, can’t do it, then hang themselves on the roadside. This is a danger to all drivers and totally unnecessary,” said Schachmann.

In the scene mentioned by Schachmann about 13 kilometers from the finish in Longwy, the TV images do not make it clear whether Primoz Roglic caused the fall on Thursday. You can only see how another driver falls, Roglic avoids and drives a bit through the ditch. “Where there is no space, there is simply no space at the moment. You don’t have to turn them all off,” said Schachmann.