Tadej Pogacar powers up last mountain test to take Tour de France stage 18
Tadej Pogacar ended any further debates over his Tour de France dominance with another summit finish victory in the Tour’s final mountain stage, to Luz Ardiden, in the French Pyrenees, 24 hours after winning on the Col du Portet.
As on stage 17, to the dizzying heights of the Portet, the denouement was between the trio vying for the Paris podium – Pogacar of the UAE Emirates team, Ineos Grenadiers’ leader, Richard Carapaz, and Jonas Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma. But as at the Col du Portet, Pogacar was too hot for his rivals to handle and he again accelerated clear to take his second mountain-top finish and his third stage of the race.
The Grenadiers, who have blown hot and cold throughout this race, were very much united this time around and on the front foot on the final two climbs of the Tour, the Col du Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, reviving memories of the Team Sky train that took Chris Froome to four Tour wins. Once again, however, it wasn’t enough to stop the 22-year-old Slovenian.
With podium contender Rigoberto Urán, riding for EF Education-Nippo, jettisoned from the elite group of leaders, it was left to Pogacar, Vingegaard and Carapaz to reprise their duel from the previous afternoon’s finish. Once again, Pogacar’s climbing speeds were too much and an acceleration from the defending champion, with a little over 3km to race, reduced the lead group to just five riders.
This time, however, Vingegaard had Andorran stage winner, Sepp Kuss, by his side and the Coloradan was happy to make the pace into the final 1500m of mountain racing.
Yet even that wasn’t enough the derail the voracious Pogacar, who followed a late move from Spain’s Enric Mas (WorldTeam Movistar), before sprinting clear to yet another emphatic stage win.