Tadej Pogacar took the next step in his bid for a third consecutive Tour de France title, grabbing the race lead after the sixth of 21 stages.
Pogacar, a 23-year-old Slovenian, won Thursday’s stage that included a hilly finishing stretch.
“Every time I win, it’s even better,” said Pogacar, who beat Australian Michael Matthews by a bike length. “I guess I had good legs to push in the end.”
Previous race leader Belgian Wout van Aert was part of a breakaway but was caught with about 10 kilometers left and finished minutes back.
Pogacar now leads American Neilson Powless by four seconds in the overall standings. Powless, 25, began the day in second place, 13 seconds behind van Aert.
Powless finished in the same time as Pogacar in Thursday’s stage, but Pogacar passed him in the overall standings because of his 10-second time bonus for the stage victory.
“We did everything we could,” said Powless, who is not expected to remain near the top of the standings through upcoming mountain stages that start Friday. “Unfortunately, I was just a few seconds too short.”
Greg LeMond is the lone American to officially lead a Tour de France. The three-time Tour winner last did so in 1991.
Four other Americans wore the yellow jersey after LeMond, but all had their results retroactively stripped for doping (Lance Armstrong, David Zabriskie, George Hincapie and Floyd Landis).
In 2018, Tejay van Garderen missed the chance to wear the yellow jersey due to a tiebreaker.
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