UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar produced another masterclass ride to claim Stage 7 of the Tour de France and consolidate his overall lead, after the first summit finish of the 2022 race route on Friday.
Approaching the finishing line of the La Planche des Belles Filles stage, in the Vosges Mountains, the Slovenian timed his sprint to perfection to beat Jumbo-Visma’s Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard and complete back-to-back stage victories.
Slovenian Primoz Roglic, also of Jumbo-Visma, joined them on the podium after edging out Bora-Hansgrohe’s German rider Lennard Kamna, who made a vain solo bid up the gruelling climb in the final five kilometres.
But Kamna couldn't quite hang on for the stage victory, as Vingegaard, and then Pogacar, sprinted past him in the final hundred metres, before Roglic pipped him on the line to take third.
“It was really difficult, especially in the end in the last k when Jonas attacked, he was so strong,” Pogacar said.
“But my boys were working all day and I had to push to the finish line.
Added incentive for Pogacar was that girlfriend, fellow Slovenian cyclist Urska Zigart, and family members were there to cheer him to victory.
“Urska was at the finish line and my family at the bottom of the climb. It was a really special day,” he said.
“I'm really happy and proud to take this win on La Planche des Belles Filles. It was in my mind a really long time, since the route was discovered.”
Pogacar also revealed that he had also been backing a cancer research foundation that launched on Friday, wearing special shoes to promote the charity.
The victory stretched his overall lead to 35 seconds over Vingegaard, who moved to second spot.
Pogacar praised second-placed Vingegaard.
“Vingegaard, I think he's right now one of the strongest climbers in the world, probably the best climber in the world and a really compact rider and a strong team around him.”
Vingegaard, 25, was disappointed, but happy with his effort.
“It was definitely a brutal finish,” he said. “I think I can be happy, I tried in the end but he just came with 20 metres to go and I didn't have an answer.
“It was really close to the line. Hopefully, I'm better on the longer climbs, at least that's what I hope, but the legs felt good and I'm happy.”
Stage results of top five
1. Tadej Pogacar (SVN) UAE Team Emirates, in 3-58-40
2. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Jumbo-Visma, at same time
3. Primoz Roglic (SVN) Jumbo-Visma, at 12s
4. Lennard Kamna (GER) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 14s
5. Geraint Thomas (GB) Ineos Grenadiers, at same time
1. Tadej Pogacar (SVN) UAE Team Emirates, in 24-43-14
2. Jonas Vingegaard (DEN) Jumbo-Visma, at 35s
3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-10
4. Adam Yates (GB) Ineos Grenadiers, at 1-18
5. David Gaudu (FRA) Groupama-FDJ, at 1-31