Tadej Pogacar outdueled primary challenger Jonas Vingegaard in the Tour de France’s first mountain stage, extending his overall standings lead as he seeks a third consecutive title in cycling’s most prestigious event.
Pogacar, a 23-year-old Slovenian, led the group of general classification contenders as they chased down lone leader German Lennard Kamna toward the top of the Planche des Belles Filles in stage seven of 21.
Vingegaard then made his move past Pogacar, as they both passed a gassed Kamna, only to see Pogacar counter to overtake him in the final dozen pedal strokes to take a second consecutive stage victory. Pogacar took a look back at Vingegaard as he reached the finish line, a move reminiscent of “The Look” from Lance Armstrong to Jan Ullrich in 2001.
“When Jonas attacked, he was strong, but I said, yeah, my boys [teammates] were working all day, I had to push to the finish line,” said Pogacar, who wore special shoes Friday to commemorate opening a cancer research foundation. “[Vingegaard] is probably the best climber in the world.”
Pogacar and Vingegaard were given the same finishing time, but Pogacar gained a 10-second bonus for the stage win (Vingegaard got a six-second bonus) to extend his overall standings lead to 35 seconds over Vingegaard.
Pogacar reinforced his status as the man to beat at this year’s Tour given Vingegaard is his biggest threat. Vingegaard, a 25-year-old Dane, was a distant second at last year’s Tour.
This year, Vingegaard began the Tour as a co-leader of Team Jumbo-Visma with 2020 Tour runner-up Primoz Roglic of Slovenia, but Roglic lost two minutes on the cobblestones of stage five, denting his hopes and elevating Vingegaard as the rival to Pogacar.
Pogacar bids to join Chris Froome as the lone three-peat Tour de France champions over the last 27 years (not including the stripped Armstong).
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