Slovenia, a nation with the population of New Mexico, has never had a Tour de France day like Sunday. It may have an even greater day in two weeks in Paris.
Primoz Roglic became the first Slovenian to wear the yellow jersey, taking the overall lead by finishing second in the ninth stage won by countryman Tadej Pogacar.
Roglic, a pre-race co-favorite with defending champion Egan Bernal of Colombia, could hold the lead through the three-week Tour’s end in Paris in two weeks. No Slovenian has won a Tour, let alone finished on the podium.
“It’s the perfect position to be in going into the second week,” said American Sepp Kuss, Roglic’s teammate on Jumbo-Visma. “The stages that are coming are stages we would want to be in control anyways. A couple windy stages. Some really medium mountain stages that could be tricky.”
Pogacar and Roglic finished together, along with others, on the second of back-to-back days in the Pyrenees. Pogacar, 21, became the youngest Tour stage winner since Lance Armstrong in 1993, according to Gracenote.
Brit Adam Yates, who led Roglic by three seconds going into Sunday, was dropped on the last of five categorized climbs and fell to eighth in the overall standings, 62 seconds behind.
Roglic, a 2007 World junior team ski jumping champion, now leads Bernal by 21 seconds with Frenchman Guillaume Martin in third place, 28 seconds behind. Pogacar moved into seventh place, 44 seconds back.
Roglic won last year’s Vuelta a Espana, becoming the first Slovenian to win a Grand Tour. Pogacar finished third, becoming the youngest Grand Tour podium placer since 1974.
The Tour has a rest day on Monday, when all riders are to undergo coronavirus testing. An entire team will be sent home if two of its riders or staff test positive.
The flat, 10th stage on Tuesday starts and finishes on two different islands for the first time in Tour history.
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