On the second Pyrenees stage of the 109th Tour de France, Tadej Pogacar did win the day, but the defending champion was unable to start a big attack on the yellow jersey of leader Jonas Vingegaard. Simon Geschke defends the mountain jersey.
Completely exhausted, Tadej Pogacar lay on the tarmac of the Peyragudes ski resort, arms and legs outstretched, and managed to smile at his prestige success. On the penultimate Pyrenean stage, the Slovenian was apparently not able to fire his announced attack, although he celebrated his third day's victory in the 109th Tour de France in front of leader Jonas Vingegaard - but the big coup didn't materialize. With the success, Pogacar reduced the gap by just four seconds to 2:18 minutes on the Dane and has to risk everything on the way to Hautacam on Thursday.
"I'm optimistic. Tomorrow it will be even harder and we can try again," said Pogacar. The 23-year-old attacked only 300 meters from the finish on the 16 percent steep final ramp, Vingegaard countered before Pogacar mobilized all his strength again. "I gave everything. I knew I had to win. There was no other way."
Pogacar let his team, reduced to three helpers, work large parts of the 129.7-kilometer stage, especially the lead of mountain specialist Brandon McNulty decimated the field. The American even finished third in Peyragudes. "We can all be proud, the stage win is a great success. There is still a chance, for now I'm happy," said Pogacar. Simon Geschke once again provided the highlight from a German perspective. The Berliner crossed the finish line more than 23 minutes behind, with more points for his mountain jersey in his luggage.
His dreams of driving through Paris in the white jersey with the red dots on Sunday are becoming more and more realistic. On Wednesday, the 36-year-old scored points again on the first climb and defended his lead in the standings. On the second climb, Geschke was unlucky when he fell back shortly before the summit due to a problem with his bike. After that, Geschke was caught up by the group of favorites. The Berliner finally crossed the finish line more than 23 minutes behind, with further points for his mountain jersey in his luggage. "My head drives me more than my legs. The jersey is a great motivation. In the end it will be decided by a few points," said Geschke.
On Thursday, Geschke could have enough on the way to Hautacam if he wins the first mountain classification on the legendary Col d'Aubisque. His toughest competitors in the fight for the jersey are the protagonists of this tour. The lead over Vingegaard is 12 points, over Pogacar 18.
"He still needs a good day. It would be a historic achievement," said Geschke's teammate Maximilian Walscheid of ARD. The 29-year-old had to leave the tour on Tuesday with a positive corona test and was Geschke's roommate until then. "He handles the attention around him very well," said Walscheid. Geschke's number of followers on Instagram alone increased by around 25 percent during the time in the mountain jersey.
The fight for the green jersey is already over. Wout van Aert can no longer be caught in the classification and now only has to reach Paris. That's what Pogacar hopes for the rest of his team in particular. On Wednesday morning he had to accept the next serious setback due to the absence of Rafal Majka. The Pole had partially torn his thigh muscle when his chain broke on the last climb on Tuesday. In addition, the sick Spaniard Marc Soler fell out of the time limit on Tuesday and is out. This means that Pogacar only has one helper in the mountains in McNulty. The Swiss Marc Hirschi and the Dane Mikkel Bjerg are more specialists for flat and hilly stages.
The tour also reported the twelfth Corona case. Belgian Tim Wellens tested positive on Wednesday and has to withdraw from the race. He had mild symptoms, said his Lotto Soudal racing team before the 17th stage. Wellens was far behind in 121st place overall.