Pogacar defends himself on the attack

The yellow jersey won in Saint Lary, but this time he did not do it alone. Vingegaard and Carapaz withstood the blow and are running for the podium in Paris.

Pogacar-defends-himself-on-the-attack

The UAE Team got tired of carrying around the sambenito that the leader's greatest weakness was his team. A label, by the way, hard-won in several stages. To remove the stigma, he chose the presumably queen stage, a stellar stage, a giant screen. Pogacar put his legionaries to set a strong rhythm in the first two ports, Peyresourde and Val Louron, history of the Pyrenees, and in the first half of the last, the Portet. A progressive chained, to an infernal pedaling, to avoid the joys of the rivals, who neither put pawns in the foreplay, nor moved in the wake of the Emirates. Today, July 14, French National Day, a Slovenian was in command: Tadej Pogacar. And he made the rules. This time there was no exhibition, but there was victory. "It's going for my team," the yellow jersey clarified. In case there were doubts.

The number one did not need an action of this caliber, with all his opponents more than five minutes away, but if something has been shown in this contest it is that it is preferable not to provoke him. The best defense is a good offense. A motto that other aces such as Eddy Merckx already used, with that Mourenx feat of 1969, those 140 kilometers of getaway along these same Pyrenean roads because yes, not because he needed it, but because his name was Merckx and he could afford it. Saving the differences, which still exist, and many, abysmal, Pogacar attacked on the final climb of the Portet because yes, simply because he could.

A that decisive ascent came with Rafal Majka, a climber who was podium in the Vuelta a España in 2015, providing the last services until there were 8.5 kilometers to go. His final effort was to hunt down Pello Bilbao, the tenth classified, who tried his luck in case he obtained the placet of the roosters, as Roberto Laiseka obtained in his day in 2001, on that occasion in Luz Ardiden, the top tomorrow. But Pogacar did not have the generous day, so he sharpened the machine and started. At that point, Enric Mas had already been off the hook for more than three kilometers, escorted by Superman López, who eased his suffering. Then he rebuilt himself a bit, to the point that he has advanced a place, seventh, but the podium has definitely disappeared. The Spanish was the first victim of the UAE plan. I was not going to be the only one.

Pogacar demarcated with the sole plan of showing off, of starring in another feat like that of the Alps, of inscribing his name on the great Pyrenees set. Rigoberto Urán, Keldermann, Lutsenko, O'Connor, Gaudu, Higuita, Theuns, Bilbao itself ... But Richard Carapaz and Jonas Vingegaard resisted, just the two cyclists who had tried the most during the Tour, the only ones who dared to challenge the Slovenian, even though the fighting has been so disproportionate. With that attack, what the yellow jersey really did was select the podium in Paris, the photograph of the Champs Elysees. Pogacar won the stage, because yes, because he can afford it, but this time there was no feat. Tadej is the best, but the reserves balance out. He arrived with the Ecuadorian and the Danish, the two strongest among the humans in the platoon.

The script could have changed, perhaps, if Carapaz had not launched a last attack that dragged Pogacar, more destined to defeat Vingegaard in his particular fight for the podium, only a second separated them at that moment, than to hurt the untouchable yellow jersey. The Slovenian hit the South American and then clinched him at the goal, with the Dane already involved again in the trio. Carapaz was left without victory at Saint Lary Soulan and without second overall position, but he is already firmly installed on the podium. This Thursday, with the Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, he will have to consolidate it. Until now we knew who was the best on the Tour. Unquestionable Tadej. But this Wednesday we have confirmed the next two. First is Pogacar. Then Vingegaard and Carapaz. And behind the rest.

Photos from as.com

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