UAE Team Emirates have taken control of the Tour de France yellow jersey for the first time this year after defending champion Tadej Pogacar dominated his General Classification rivals on Stage 8 to move into the overall lead on Saturday.
Pogacar, who made history last year as the Tour's youngest winner in 116 years, finished fourth at Le Grand Bornand as Dylan Teuns made it successive stage wins for Bahrain Victorious. The Belgian crossed the finish line of the Tour's first mountain stage 44 seconds ahead of runner-up Ion Izagirre Insausti of Astana-Premier Tech, with Israel Start-Up Nation's Michael Woods a further three seconds behind, closely followed by Pogacar.
It was a fine display by Teuns to earn the stage victory on a day of constant heavy rain and tough racing through the Alps. But his performance was, in the bigger picture of the Tour, overshadowed by the incomparable Pogacar, who now holds a firm grip on the overall lead.
To give a sense of the Slovenian's dominance over his yellow jersey rivals on Stage 8, he started the day in fifth place, trailing leader Mathieu van der Poel by 3mins 43secs. He ended the day with a 1min 48secs lead over second-placed Wout van Aert of Jumbo-Visma.
Meanwhile, two leading GC contenders saw their title hopes ended. Ineos Grenadiers rider Geraint Thomas, the 2018 champion, and Jumbo-Visma's Primoz Roglic - who led last year's Tour until the penultimate stage - both lost contact early and are definitively out of the running.
The leading hope of Ineos Grenadiers, who assembled an all-star lineup in an attempt to stop Pogacar, is 5mins 1sec behind the leader, with Richard Carapaz sixth in the overall standings.
Indeed Pogacar dropped Carapaz when he attacked on the steepest sections of the Col de Romme and gave chase to Woods on the slopes of the last climb on the Col de la Colombiere. As the 22-year-old powered up the climb, he quickly closed in on Woods, who led by three minutes at the foot of the final slope. By the time of the final descent, Pogacar crossed the line just two seconds behind the Canadian, but most crucially, streets ahead of his GC challengers.
When asked if he had planned his attack prior to the start of the stage, Pogacar said: "Not really, I said we’ll see how it goes today. Then at the start it was a super-hard day, riders everywhere ... it was super-hard for everyone, and in the end I felt good in this weather, it feels great.
"Before the last three climbs, I said to my teammates: ‘Let’s try and break the race,’ and we did it. I saw that everybody was suffering. I just took off, and tried to pace myself to the finish line. I’m pretty happy."
Pogacar, who won the Stage 5 time trial, may hold a commanding position, but with 13 stages still to race the 22-year-old is adamant that there is nothing to celebrate yet.
"I haven't won the Tour de France yet," he said, looking ahead to Sunday's stage with its summit finish at Tignes. "Tomorrow we have a super-super hard stage, we may have to defend there."
Stage winner Teuns, who also won a stage on the 2019 Tour on the storied Planche des Belles Fille climb, dedicated his win to his grandmother following the recent death of his grandfather.
"I hope she's not suffering too much by being alone," said Teuns. "It’s just amazing to win in the Tour. It was an honour to my granddad, who died just before the Tour, that’s why I was pointing up [after the finish line]. We had the funeral a few days before I had to go to the Tour, so it was a bit emotional for me, this last 10km. I hope he’s proud of me.”