Tadej Pogacar at imperious best with stage 17 victory on Col du Portet
The Tour de France leader Tadej Pogacar repelled all assaults on his control of the race, with an imperious win at the top of the Col de Portet in the French Pyrenees, as Jonas Vingegaard of the Jumbo Visma team, and Richard Carapaz riding for Ineos Grenadiers, scrapped between each other to guarantee a top three finish in Paris.
Pogacar, leader of the UAE Emirates team, had described the Bastille Day stage, from Muret to the Col du Portet, as the hardest stage of the 2021 Tour. Despite that, on the mighty 16 kilometre climb of the Portet, it was defending champion Pogacar who drove the pace at the decisive moments and finally emerged through the mountain mist to claim his second stage win in this year’s Tour.
In the Slovenian’s wake, Vingegaard and Carapaz moved clear of their rivals for the Paris podium as Rigoberto Uran of the EF Education Nippo team, and Australian Ben O’Connor, riding for AG2R Citroen, were cut adrift in the final kilometres of the climb.
Pogacar expertly controlled Carapaz and Vingegaard in the final steepest sections of the Portet ascent. A series of accelerations from the race leader in the final two kilometres, emphasised his strength, but failed to dislodge his two companions.
But as the trio entered the short tunnel leading to the final thousand meters, Carapaz accelerated, leaving Vingegaard behind. Yet it wasn’t enough to take back any time and the Danish climber recaptured the leading duo, just as Pogacar moved ahead of Carapaz with one final acceleration to seal stage victory.