Tadej Pogacar’s Tour de France campaign exploded dramatically on the brutal slopes of the Col du Granon in the Haute Alpes after a series of attacks from Jonas Vingegaard finally cracked the defending champion 5km from the summit as his Danish rival took over the race lead.
In a dramatic collapse, defending champion UAE Emirates wider Pogacar, who had been smiling confidently for TV motorbike cameras at the foot of the 11km climb, ceded almost three minutes to Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma by the summit of the Granon. In an unexpected reversal, the Slovenian lost his yellow jersey and his aura of invincibility.
Vingegaard now leads the race by 2min 16sec from French climber Romain Bardet. The 2018 champion Geraint Thomas is now fourth, just four seconds behind the double Tour winner, who dropped to third.
The first serious attacks of a brutal stage came on the ascent of the penultimate climb, the Col du Galibier, with Vingegaard, his teammate Primoz Roglic, and Pogacar trading blows on the mammoth climb, as Thomas clung on. But the defending champion had seemed as untroubled as ever, and as the group of favourites approached the foot of the Granon, Pogacar was all smiles as TV cameras surrounded him.
Seven kilometres from the summit, at the instigation of Bardet, the tables were turned with Vingegaard opening up a huge gap on an isolated Pogacar, who was sorely missing his absent climbing lieutenant George Bennett, who withdrew from the race on Tuesday after testing positive for Covid.
Pogacar now has to recover quickly before Thursday’s equally brutal Alpine stage to Alpe d’Huez.
July 13, 2022 at 09:18PM Jeremy Whittle in Briancon