Tadej Pogačar crushed the last hopes of his competitors in the fight for an overall victory in the Tour de France with another dominant performance in the mountains. With the new victory, the Slovenian phenomenon also won the polka dot jersey for the “King of the Mountains” and at the same time set a new historical milestone. He became the first cyclist ever to celebrate the victory in a yellow jersey on two consecutive mountain stages with a summit finish!
After the Queen stage the previous day, a new hard day in the mountains with two extra category ascents was waiting for the cyclists in stage 18. The first one was the ascent to the most visited mountain pass in the Tour de France’s history – the mythical “Tourmalet”, followed by the final ascent on Luz Ardiden.
The breakaways did not manage to gain a major advantage throughout the entire stage, so they were all caught before the final ascent on Luz Ardiden (13.4 km). The UAE Team Emirates team repeated the drill from stage 17 – Rafal Majka picked up the pace again and caused a big dropout, followed by Tadej himself launching an attack. One kilometer before the finish line, only four riders remained in the fight for the stage victory – Pogačar, Mas, Vingegaard, and Carapaz. Mas was the first to launch an attack, but Pogačar responded with an even more powerful counterattack. None of the remaining three riders was able to challenge or follow Tadej while he was storming towards another stage victory and the polka dot jersey.
A new victory meant that Pogačar repeated the success from last year’s Tour de France when he celebrated 3 stage victories and wore as many as 3 winners jerseys: yellow (overall victory), polka dot (“King of the Mountains”), and white (best young rider). It seems that only a higher power can prevent Tadej from repeating his the success from 2020 Tour de France. With his second consecutive victory, the Slovenian prodigy rewrote the history books once again. He became the first rider in the history of the Tour de France to win two consecutive mountain stages with a summit finish while wearing a yellow jersey.
“The stage was very tough, already on the Tourmalet, the pace was high. I concentrated and was waiting for the last climb, where I gave my all. I’m speechless. After what happened yesterday I’m so happy to have done it again” said Tadej Pogačar after another glorious performance.
Photo: A.S.O.; BettiniPhoto