There were no big attacks, but at the end of the steep final ramp in Peyragudes, Tadej Pogacar at least celebrated a respectable win. The defending champion won the 17th stage of the Tour de France at the ski station in the Pyrenees and made up four seconds on leader Jonas Vingegaard with a time bonus.
Before the last act in the mountains, the Dane is 2:18 minutes ahead of Pogacar. The 109th tour, that much should be clear, will be decided between the two giants of this edition. Simon Geschke provided the next German ray of hope and defended his mountain jersey again.
Pogacar has already had his team driving at high speed in the first three of four climbs. Already at the Col de Val Louron-Azet, the penultimate pass at 1580 meters, the first results of the work were visible. Only the two-time Tour winner and Vingegaard could match the pace of Pogacar’s helper Brandon McNulty. Geraint Thomas, third overall, and Nairo Quintana, fourth, were already behind before the final. Shortly before the mountains classification, Pogacar made his first attack, which Vingegaard followed easily. So the duo went together in the final ascent.
Meanwhile, Geschke’s dreams of driving through Paris in a mountain jersey on Sunday are becoming more and more realistic. On Wednesday, the 36-year-old scored points again on the first climb and defended his lead in the standings.
On the second climb, Geschke was unlucky when he fell back shortly before the summit due to a problem with his bike. After that, the Berliner was caught up by the group of favorites. On Thursday, Geschke could have enough on the way to Hautacam if he wins the first mountain classification on the legendary Col d’Aubisque.
“He needs a good day. It would be a historic achievement,” Geschke’s teammate Maximilian Walscheid told ARD. The 29-year-old had to leave the tour on Tuesday with a positive corona test and was Geschke’s roommate until then. “He handles the attention around him very well,” said Walscheid. Geschke’s number of followers on Instagram alone increased by around 25 percent during the time in the mountain jersey. The fight for the green jersey is already over. Wout van Aert can no longer be caught in the classification and now only has to reach Paris.
That’s what Pogacar hopes for the rest of his team in particular. On Wednesday morning he had to accept the next serious setback due to the absence of Rafal Majka. The Pole had partially torn his thigh muscle when his chain broke on the last climb on Tuesday. In addition, the sick Spaniard Marc Soler fell out of the time limit on Tuesday and is out.
This means that Pogacar only has one helper in the mountains in the American McNulty. The Swiss Marc Hirschi and the Dane Mikkel Bjerg are more specialists for flat and hilly stages.
The tour also reported the twelfth Corona case. Belgian Tim Wellens tested positive on Wednesday and has to withdraw from the race. He had mild symptoms, said his Lotto Soudal racing team before the 17th stage. Wellens was far behind in 121st place overall.