President Emmanuel Macron applauded as an enthusiastic noble fan, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar delivered the Pyrenees spectacle they had hoped for. Vingegaard took over the yellow jersey from Bora captain Jai Hindley at the first mountain finish of the 110th Tour de France, but the Dane had to cede the stage win in Cauterets-Cambasque to his great rival Pogacar. The Slovenian reported back after his unexpected weakness from the day before and showed that the tour is far from over.
“What can I say? It was an epic day in the yellow jersey on mystical climbs. I enjoyed that and wanted to race my own race. I drove for my life,” Hindley said. The Australian is now third in the overall standings, 1:34 minutes behind new leader Jonas Vingegaard. Pogacar is within striking distance, 25 seconds behind the Dane. Emanuel Buchmann, as Hindley’s helper, showed another strong performance on Thursday, falling back five kilometers before the summit and in the overall classification from the top 10.
Bora sports director Rolf Aldag had already guessed that defending the yellow jersey would be a real challenge. Unlike the teams of top stars Vingegaard and Pogacar, Bora does not have an all-mountain team. Nevertheless, the top German team tried to control the race and let a non-dangerous group go by a maximum of five minutes.
Bob Jungels and Buchmann backed Hindley to claim the coveted jersey. “I got a lot of messages from home, people got up especially to see the stage. I really want to keep the jersey,” said the Australian before the start of the stage. On the climbs, Vingegaard’s jumbo team always took command and gradually decimated the peloton.
The main concern was a further weakening of two-time Tour winner Pogacar. The day before, the Slovenian had already shown unusual weaknesses on the first mountain stage and lost more than a minute to Vingegaard. “There were a lot of little things that came together. My form is good and I hope that I can still show that,” said Pogacar and was combative. The 24-year-old broke his scaphoid at the end of April and came to the Tour with a training backlog and without much racing experience. His scaphoid is still bandaged.
Already on the legendary Tourmalet, the penultimate climb of the day, things got down to business. Jumbo increased the pace in the steeper second half, Vingegaard attacked immediately. The attack was followed only by Pogacar, who showed no weakness. Hindley had already lost two minutes to the favorite duo at the summit of the Tourmalet, and Buchmann also suffered in the chasing group.
Vingegaard’s next push came on the 16-kilometer climb to Cauterets-Cambasque, which despite its length is not one of the greatest difficulties in the high mountains. Only in the last five kilometers did the gradient increase to double-digit percentages, which Vingegaard used to attack. But he couldn’t get rid of Pogacar and was apparently completely surprised by his counterattack and ultimately lost valuable time.
After the two Pyrenees stages, it’s the sprinters’ turn again on Friday. From Mont-de-Marsan it is mostly flat over 169.9 kilometers to Bordeaux. In the metropolis on the Atlantic, Phil Bauhaus should hope for another top result if he made it through the mountains well.