Poker game instead of climbing fireworks on the national holiday: Tadej Pogacar only delivered the expected spectacle on the Grand Colombier in the last kilometer and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard missed the next goal. The Slovenian caught up a few seconds on his Danish opponent when the breakaway Michal Kwiatkowski was victorious in third place. After the third mountain finish of the 110th Tour de France, only nine seconds separate Pogacar from leader Vingegaard.
Pogacar’s team drove at high speed into the final climb in the French part of the Jura. Vingegaard, wearing the yellow jersey for the 18th time in his career, didn’t leave the wheel of the second overall, effectively man-marking him. Pogacar came back to the Grand Colombier with fond memories. In 2020 he had already won the tour stage to the 1501 meter high summit.
It was only on the last kilometer that Pogacar caught his heart and launched one of his dreaded explosive attacks. Vingegaard broke away after about 200 meters, but kept the damage within limits and rolled over the finish line just behind Pogacar. Georg Zimmermann was in the breakaway group of the day for a long time, but had no chance of winning. “It’s a shame I didn’t get there. Today I made no mistake. It’s a bit unfortunate that in the end the general classification drivers still fly past me,” said the 25-year-old.
In the past, the national holiday had always caused stories on the tour that are still told today. Seven years ago, Chris Froome jogged madly up Mont Ventoux in the yellow jersey because his bike broke down. 20 years ago, Spaniard Joseba Beloki fell on a descent on his way to Gap, Lance Armstrong behind him swerved and rumbled across a field. 25 years ago, the nurse Willy Voet, who was arrested with various doping substances, broke his silence in custody and the Festina scandal escalated.
On Friday there were no historical incidents. After a good 30 kilometers there was a group of 19 riders, including Zimmermann. The mountain-strong Augsburger had already finished second on Tuesday and was hoping for another chance to win a stage. But Pogacar wanted to win and therefore something against it. The two-time Tour winner sent his team forward in the field, the group lead was maintained at around two minutes for long stretches. It was correspondingly fast. In the first hour of racing alone, more than 50 kilometers were covered, after two hours the average was hardly less.
On Saturday, the 151.8-kilometer route to Morzine is the next really difficult stage in the Alps. Three mountains of the first category have to be climbed before there are even bonus seconds on the Col de Joux Plane, which is assigned to the highest category. Hardly any time can be made up in the twelve-kilometer descent to the finish.