Pogacar wins again atop giant Tour de France mountain Col du Portet
Tadej Pogacar extended his lead by winning stage 17 of the Tour de France on Wednesday atop Pyrenean giant the Col du Portet, where he was followed over the line by Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz after the three played out an epic struggle.
Ecuadorian Carapaz launched a blistering attack 1.5km from the 2,200m summit finish, but was reeled in by Pogacar.
The Slovenian champion took his second victory on this Tour to extend his five-and-a-half minutes lead over the surprising Dane Vingegaard. Carapaz climbed to third overall after Rigobert Uran was dropped on the hillside.
"It was the most difficult stage of the Tour, and I dedicate this win to my team who worked so hard for me here," said Pogacar.
When asked if he was upset about Carapaz’s attack in the final after sitting on the wheel the entire climb, the yellow jersey simply shrugged, “Why not? I don’t see any problem with people attacking, it’s a bike race,” Pogacar said. “Everyone has a chance to attack, of course, everyone would grab it. Everyone wants to win, and everyone wants to play their own tactic.”
“The Tour is like a marathon,” Carapaz said at the finish. “You cannot give up until the finish line. "We cannot give up trying, even though our rival did not cede under our rhythm. Now there is only one more day in the Pyrénées and the time trial, I need to get the maximum out of myself.”
On the French national holiday of Bastille Day, FDJ's French rider David Gaudu came fourth at a finish line above the clouds in this remote bear inhabited corner of France.
French team AG2R saw their Australian podium hope Ben O'Connor consolidate fifth overall as he rounded out the day's top five.
AG2R boss Vincent Lavenu said the stage, with 36km of steep climbing on the final section, was a "race for second place and that half the pretenders will be dropped here."
It proved to be so, but Ineos man Carapaz, who looked to be struggling after the lead trio broke off from the pretenders 8km from home, kept fighting with his late but fruitless burst. He moves up to third place overall after crossing the line just behind Pogacar and Vingegaard.
Jonas Vingegaard was delighted with his performance in the 17th stage of the Tour de France. The Dane from Jumbo-Visma managed to stay with Tadej Pogacar and Richard Carapaz on the final climb of the Col du Portet, moving him to second place in the standings.
“What a day! Second in the stage and second in the GC. I am very happy with that,” Vingegaard said afterwards.
The young rider was one of the riders who was able to keep up with Pogacar’s acceleration 8 kilometers from the finish and after Rigoberto Uran was dropped, he was left at the front along with Pogacar and Carapaz. “I think Pogacar, Carapaz and I were at same level today. Carapaz didn’t want to cooperate. When he accelerated in the last kilometer, I had a bit of a hard time following. But luckily I was strong enough to come back and beat him in the sprint.”
“I don’t think I could have beat Pogacar. He is very strong and is in the lead in the GC for a reason. But I don’t regret my efforts. Hopefully I can survive tomorrow and then it looks good to finish on the podium,” said Vingegaard.
One last mountain top finish awaits the riders Thursday before Saturday's potentially decisive time-trial and Sunday's parade into Paris.
Stage 18 features the Tourmalet which leads into the climb towards Luz Ardiden for the last mountain stage. Dense, tense, selective with the climbs up two giants of the Pyrenees: the Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, will be final mountain battle. GC climbing contenders will have to find a way to gain enough time in the GC on those who are better in time-trials.
VIDEO: 2021 Tour de France Stage 17 Highlights
2021 Tour de France Stage 17 Top 20
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) - UAE Team Emirates - 5hrs03mins31sec
2. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) - Jumbo-Visma - +3sec
3. Richard Carapaz (ECU) - INEOS Grenadiers - +4sec
4. David Gaudu (FRA) - Groupama-FDJ - +1mins19sec
5. Ben O'Connor (AUS) - AG2R-Citroën Team - +1mins26sec
6. Wilco Kelderman (NED) - BORA-hansgrohe - +1mins40sec
7. Pello Bilbao (ESP) - Bahrain Victorious - +1mins44sec
8. Sergio Higuita (COL) - EF Education-Nippo - +1mins49sec
9. Rigoberto Urán (COL) - EF Education-Nippo - +1mins49sec
10. Dylan Teuns (BEL) - Bahrain Victorious - +1mins49sec
11. Enric Mas (ESP) - Movistar Team - +2mins27sec
12. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) - Astana-Premier Tech - +2mins53sec
13. Guillaume Martin (FRA) - Cofidis - +3mins39sec
14. Louis Meintjes (RSA) - Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux - +3mins41sec
15. Ruben Guerreiro (POR) - EF Education-Nippo - +3mins55sec
16. Esteban Chaves (COL) - Team BikeExchange - +4mins46sec
17. Mattia Cattaneo (ITA) - Deceuninck-Quick-Step - +4mins46sec
18. Wout Poels (NED) - Bahrain Victorious - +5mins26sec
19. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP) - INEOS Grenadiers - +6mins38sec
20. Bauke Mollema (NED) - Trek-Segafredo - +7mins27sec
2021 Tour de France GC after Stage 17 Top 20
1. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) - UAE Team Emirates - 71hrs26mins27sec
2. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) - Jumbo-Visma - +5mins39sec
3. Richard Carapaz (ECU) - INEOS Grenadiers - +5mins43sec
4. Rigoberto Urán (COL) - EF Education-Nippo - +7mins17sec
5. Ben O'Connor (AUS) - AG2R-Citroën Team - +7mins34sec
6. Wilco Kelderman (NED) - BORA-hansgrohe - +8mins06sec
7. Enric Mas (ESP) - Movistar Team - +9mins48sec
8. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) - Astana-Premier Tech - +10mins04sec
9. Guillaume Martin (FRA) - Cofidis - +11mins51sec
10. Pello Bilbao (ESP) - Bahrain Victorious - +12mins53sec
11. David Gaudu (FRA) - Groupama-FDJ - +15mins42sec
12. Mattia Cattaneo (ITA) - Deceuninck-Quick-Step - +19mins41sec
13. Esteban Chaves (COL) - Team BikeExchange - +28mins42sec
14. Aurélien Paret-Peintre (FRA) - AG2R-Citroën Team - +31mins48sec
15. Louis Meintjes (RSA) - Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux - +34mins02sec
16. Wout Poels (NED) - Bahrain Victorious - +44mins18sec
17. Dylan Teuns (BEL) - Bahrain Victorious - +46mins08sec
18. Ruben Guerreiro (POR) - EF Education-Nippo - +49mins01sec
19. Sergio Henao (COL) - Team Qhubeka-NextHash - +50mins07sec
20. Wout van Aert (BEL) - Jumbo-Visma - +51mins22sec