Wednesday, August 17

Tadej Pogacar storms into yellow jersey with Tour de France stage six triumph | Tour de France


The defending champion Tadej Pogacar won stage six of the Tour de France, from Binche to Longwy, sprinting across the line to win at a canter from Michael Matthews and David Gaudu with Ineos’s Tom Pidcock placing fourth.

The tough uphill finish suited double Tour winner Pogacar, leader of the UAE Emirates team, who took his first stage win in this year’s race, on the eve of Friday’s first summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles. The Slovenian had already tried his hand on the short and sharp climb of the Cote de Pulventeux, with only 5km to race, but his rivals quickly closed down the move.

However, when the lead group crested the top of the final climb, the Cote des Religieuses, there was no stopping the 23-year-old and his explosive acceleration secured his first success in the 2022 Tour. But there was confusion over the tactics of the rival Jumbo-Visma team after the overall race leader at the start of the day, Wout van Aert, attacked in the first half of the stage in what seemed an impressive if over-ambitious move that ultimately cost him the leader’s yellow jersey.

There have been few bolder displays of attacking riding in the first week of the Tour than Van Aert’s. Three second places ended with a stage win in Calais, while he was a force of nature on Wednesday’s stage to Arenberg. The rolling roads from Bianche to Longwy saw another virtuoso display with the 27-year-old Belgian leading a three-man breakaway for much of the stage.

Van Aert’s move began as the peloton crossed back into France with just under 150km to race. From there on, he drove his two breakaway companions, Trek Segafredo’s Quinn Simmons and Jakob Fuglsang of Israel Premier Tech, to their limits. Fuglsang, beset by a mechanical problem, was first to drop away, while Simmons, with 30km to race, simply could not hang on to Van Aert’s coat tails and shook his head in resignation as the race leader sped on towards the finish.

Tadej Pogacar puts on the yellow jersey for the first time in the 2022 Tour de France. Photograph: Yoan Valat/EPA

In the immediate aftermath of the stage, the rationale behind Van Aert’s move was unclear, given that Jumbo-Visma’s leadership duo of Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic had endured such a torrid day on the cobbles of northern France just 24 hours earlier, and that Pogacar had gone on to win the stage.

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    But with Friday’s first summit finish at La Planche des Belles Filles coming into view, the best guest was that his attack was aimed at depleting the energies of the defending Tour champion’s UAE Emirates team. Yet Van Aert was swept up with 11km to race and then fell far behind the peloton, with Pogacar going on to emphasize his superiority, making it a tactic that backfired.


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