Tadej Pogacar wins thrilling Stage 17 but Jonas Vingegaard retains Tour de France lead

Jumbo-Visma rider holds on to yellow jersey after finishing right behind UAE Team Emirates' defending champion

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UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar was pushed to his limits on a thrilling day's racing as he won Stage 17 of the Tour de France to slightly close the gap on overall leader Jonas Vingegaard at the summit of Peyragudes on Wednesday.

The Danish rider stayed behind the defending champion to finish second and take the six-second time bonus, meaning he lost only four seconds, with his lead now at two minutes and 18 seconds.

Both Pogacar and Vingegaard raced shoulder-to-shoulder on the final 300 metres of the steep climb before the UAE Team Emirates rider crossed the finishing line first, to claim the 10-second bonus, with the Jumbo-Visma man behind him in second.

Brandon McNulty, Pogacar’s American teammate who led him up all the way on the final steep climb to the finishing line, took third spot ahead of Briton Geraint Thomas, the Ineos Grenadiers holding on to third overall, now 4:56 behind the leader.

“To take the stage win today was already incredible,” Pogacar said after Rafal Majka, who suffered a thigh injury when his chain snapped on Tuesday, became the fourth UAE Team Emirates rider to exit the race.

“The team … we were only four, and to take the stage win is incredible. We can all be proud because without them we cannot try more. We see tomorrow as another chance but for now, I am happy.

“I gave absolutely everything and I know that I need to win, there's no other way, so I gave it all for the team and I was so happy.”

It was a third stage win of this year's Tour for the two-time defending champion, but Vingegaard still has a firm grip on the yellow jersey. However, Pogacar is still optimistic about overhauling his rival.

“I am optimistic. I think tomorrow is more hard day and we can try again,” he said.

Pogacar thanked all his teammates for setting up the win. Pogacar was left with only three teammates. Mikkel Bjerg and McNulty did commendable work on the 130km stage from Saint-Gaudens to help the defending champion.

“Not only Brandon, also Mikkel [Berg] and [Marc] Hirschi,” the Slovenian said. “Mikkel rode like a climber today. He set such a good pace on the climbs, it was unbelievable. I felt so good with that pace, I felt confident and I know he felt confident also.

“Brandon did an amazing job, he was so good today – he's been good all Tour but a special mention goes to him.”

Vingegaard himself felt the title race was far from over.

“It isn't all in hand, but I'm happy with how it went,” he said. “I have to keep an eye on him because you never know which moment he'll attack. I only have to follow Tadej.”

Veteran Thomas, 2018's champion, again proved doubters wrong as he dug deep as his teammates Adam Yates and Tom Pidcock dropped away quickly.

The top three looks settled, but the order remains to be seen with Thursday's massive mountain slog to Hautacam and Saturday's 41km time-trial likely to wreak damage on someone.

Stage 17 results

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 3 hrs 25 mins 51 secs

2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma same time

3. Brandon McNulty (US) UAE Team Emirates +32

4. Geraint Thomas (GB) Ineos Grenadiers +2:07

5. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana-Qazaqstan Team+2:34

General classification

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Den) Jumbo-Visma 67 hrs 53 mins 54 secs

2. Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates+2:18

3. Geraint Thomas (GB) Ineos Grenadiers +4:56

4. Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic +7:53

5. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ +7:57

Updated: July 20, 2022, 5:04 PM