Jonas Vingegaard became the first man to ever snatch the Tour de France yellow jersey off Tadej Pogacar, dropping the two-time champion in the Alps en route to his first career Tour stage victory on Wednesday.
Vingegaard began the day in third place, 39 seconds behind Pogacar. He finished it in the yellow jersey for the first time in his career, 2 minutes, 16 seconds ahead of Frenchman Romain Bardet and 2:22 up on Pogacar, who cracked.
“It’s hard for me to put words on,” Vingegaard said in an interview minutes after getting a handshake from Pogacar. “This is what I dreamt of, always, [winning] a stage in the Tour and now the yellow jersey is incredible.”
Vingegaard, a distant runner-up to Pogacar last year in his Tour debut, attacked the Slovenian with about three miles left on a climb to the highest-category summit finish at the Col du Granon in stage 11 of 21.
“On the last climb, I was thinking, if I don’t try, I’m not going to win,” Vingegaard said. “Of course, second place is a nice result in the GC [general classification], but I tried this last year. Now at least I want to try to go for the victory.”
Pogacar, who had been pulled by teammate Rafal Majka, had no answer for Vingegaard, who by then had no Jumbo-Visma teammates left. Pogacar dragged himself to the finish in seventh place on the day.
“On the last climb, I don’t know, I just didn’t have a good [end to the] day,” Pogacar said. “I was suffering until the end.”
Earlier in the stage, Vingegaard and teammate Primoz Roglic, the 2020 Tour runner-up, took turns attacking Pogacar, who earlier in the Tour had two of his seven teammates drop out due to positive COVID-19 tests.
“We made a plan from the start of the day,” Vingegaard said. “I guess, obviously, you could see what the plan was. We wanted to make a super hard race. We thought it was in my favor and the favor of Primoz.”
Roglic was eventually dropped altogether, fading 11 minutes in the overall standings.
There could be another shakeup on Thursday when the Tour traverses one of its iconic climbs up Alpe d’Huez.
“It’s not over yet,” Pogacar said. “I lose today three minutes. Maybe tomorrow I gain three minutes. I will keep fighting ’til the end.”
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