Jonas Vingegaard wanted to let everyone know that the Tour de France is far from over on the first mountain stage to La Super Planche des Belles Filles. And it isn’t. But reality in the form of current leader Tadej Pogačar was there to remind everyone not to get their hopes up too high.
Vingegaard bided his time behind his Jumbo Visma squad, on the heels of UAE and INEOS for much of the stage as the top guys hung together closely, not far behind the day’s breakaway, with just the one (exceptionally nasty) climb of note on the seventh stage. When the climb to the finish atop the gravel road finally got underway, only Lennard Kämna of BORA threatened to steal the stage, and with under a minute in hand that was a tenuous prospect at best. With Pogačar riding comfortably in yellow, Vingegaard could surely see that a stage win and some bonus seconds was probably his best bet. So he waited.
In the final 500 meters, with Pogačar himself lifting the pace and Kämna now in sight, Vingegaard readied for the move that would win the stage. It came with maybe 150 meters to go, on gravel slopes exceeding 20% gradients, and Pogačar was gapped while Kämna was swept away. It was a perfect strategy, all things considered. But the timing was ever so slightly flawed.
Vingegaard flashed forward, opening up a couple bike lengths over his dominant rival, and could see the line clearly ahead, just around a last corner. Pogačar even sat down, perhaps signaling that he didn’t think he could win. Then the struggle began. Vingegaard began to slow, as the slope bit into his legs, and Pogačar, anxious to win on the day he planned to announce his new cancer foundation, didn’t give up. He came by the struggling dane in the final 10 meters, just enough time to throw his arms in the air and celebrate his ninth career Tour stage win. Vingegaard was given the same time, but with the ten and six second bonuses reversed, it was really an eight second loss.
Oh well. On to the next stage for Jumbo, who also saw their original leader Primož Roglič slip into third place, the only other rider to catch Kämna, who ended up fourth, 14 seconds back. From there, it was a swarm of INEOS riders — four of them among the next 10 to cross the line — all ceding bits of time to the seemingly invincible leader, who showed off his special shoes commemorating the day.
With Geraint Thomas of INEOS now over a minute back in third place, it feels like the two-rider rivalry that defined today’s stage will continue to be the story in the mountains. It was Vingegaard, after all, who put Pogačar in difficulty last year on the final climbing day, suggesting (as Pogs acknowledged today) that the Dane might yet be the best pure climber in the race. With just 35 seconds separating them, the rivalry is real, at least until the coming stages in the French and Swiss Alps. Should Vingegaard find a way to drop the Slovene along those roads, we will have a dogfight of a Tour de France. And if not, we will have a march to a third win for the young champion.
Some other notable time gaps include Nairo Quintana losing 51 seconds, Alexander Vlasov shipping 1.39, and Thibaut Pinot — who held the Super Planche climbing record before today — dropping 2.26.
- Tadej Pogacar, UAE Team Emirates, 03:58:40
- Jonas Vingegaard, Jumbo-Visma, s.t.
- Primoz Roglic, Jumbo-Visma, at 0.12
- Lennard Kämna, BORA-hansgrohe, at 0.14
- Geraint Thomas INEOS Grenadiers, s.t.
- David Gaudu, Groupama-FDJ, at 0.19
- Enric Mas, Movistar Team, at 0.21
- Romain Bardet, Team DSM, 0.21
- Adam Yates, INEOS Grenadiers, at 0.29
- Sepp Kuss Jumbo-Visma, at 0.41
- Pogacar, 24:43:14
- Vingegaard, at 0.35
- Thomas, at 1:10
- Yates, at 1:18
- Gaudu, at 1:31
- Bardet, at 1:32
- Tom Pidcock, INEOS Grenadiers, at 1:35
- Neilson Powless EF Education-EasyPost, at 1:37
- Mas, at 1:43
- Daniel Martinez INEOS Grenadiers, at 1:55
Tomblaine - La Super Planche de Belle Filles 176.3 km
Mountain time. Finally poor suffering Tadej will not be at such a disadvantage and he can finally show that he is a worthy TdF contender.
Expected finish: 17:15 - 17:45 CEST
Pretty girl the of the Day : Tadej Pogačar
I hear he can climb. And wants it.