Two men above the lot, a coveted top 5, French present and two big losers. Here, in summary, is the assessment of the favorites after the 17th stage of the Tour de France, Wednesday July 20, between Saint-Gaudens (Haute-Garonne) and Peyragudes. Overview of the leaders before the final mountain stage, Thursday, in Hautacam.
The unstoppable Vingegaard, the Pogacar electron
In the race for the final victory, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) took the lead. A nice option too. Dressed in yellow, with a free spirit and fresh legs like the start of a Grand Tour, the kilometers of ascent do not seem to worry him, otherwise they reinforce him. Attacked, lonely and even the victim of a fall on Sunday, nothing seems to be able to prevent the Dane from winning this 109th Tour de France.
Nothing, nothing… except maybe a person. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) continues to attack his rival to overthrow him. After his failure at the Granon, the Slovenian once again became the rider who won the Tour twice. Faithful to his attacking mentality, he puts all the weapons on his side to come back on his best enemy, who follows him like his shadow. The scenario repeated itself on Wednesday. Pogacar won, but Vingegaard never lost sight of him, ending up on his street.
The characteristic of this Tour de France is that, apart from the 11th stage and the Granon, the two strong men are at a very close level when the road rises. For the last mountain stage between Lourdes and Hautacam on Thursday, Pogacar will have another opportunity to shake Vingegaard, before a final one during the time trial on Saturday between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour (40.7 km).
Geraint Thomas well installed on the podium
Winner of the Tour de France in 2018, Geraint Thomas finds, this season, a form that he had not had for several years. The leader of the Ineos Grenadiers formation presented himself, once again during the 17th stage in Peyragudes, as the third best climber of this edition. At 36, the Welshman was left behind, like all those aiming for a podium, but crossed the finish line alone, more than two minutes behind the two leaders.
At the dawn of the last mountain stage and the time trial, where he is far superior to those behind him in the general classification, the Briton is almost three minutes ahead of Nairo Quintana, fourth.
Quintana, Gaudu and Bardet… A raging battle for fourth place
After his stunning final in the Peyragudes altiport, David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), seventh in the stage, came back to within four seconds of fourth place from Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic). The 32-year-old Colombian seemed more in difficulty after trying to follow the best while the Breton, like on most mountain stages, managed his pace.
Gaudu also has the team advantage. He can notably rely on a Valentin Madouas in great shape, who accompanied him throughout the stage between Saint-Gaudens and Peyragudes, Wednesday. He should also be able to count on Michael Storer and possibly Thibaut Pinot, if the latter does not go in search of a stage victory or points for the mountain.
Romain Bardet (Team DSM), who “survived” in the 17th stage after playing “double or quits”, do not give up. The Auvergnat moved up three places and, before Hautacam, found itself sixth overall less than two minutes from David Gaudu’s top 5. A tough mission, but not impossible for Bardet, who has for him his experiences of second in the Tour in 2016, and third in 2017.
Adam Yates and Tom Pidcock, the disappointments
In the Ineos Grenadiers clan, if Geraint Thomas reassured and put a first foot on the podium of the Champs-Elysées, others were disillusioned. This is particularly the case of Adam Yates. Sixth in the general classification before the 17th stage, the British climber experienced another “day without” on a Grand Tour. He arrived at Peyragudes in 21st position, far from the best with a disbursement of 8’59. Simon’s big brother finds himself 9th overall, under the threat of Enric Mas and Alexey Lutsenko, in the event of another failure.
It was the same for his young British teammate Tom Pidcock. Victorious at Alpe d’Huez, the Olympic mountain bike champion gave way as the stage progressed and largely faltered in the face of the pace of the best. The Englishman completed the 129.7 km twenty-two minutes after the best and tumbled to 15th place overall.
The general classification
1st: Jonas Vingegaard (TJV)
2nd: Tadej Pogacar (UAE) at 2’18
3rd: Geraint Thomas (IGD) at 4’56
4th: Nairo Quintana (ARK) at 7’53
5th: David Gaudu (FDJ) at 7’57
6th: Romain Bardet (DSM) at 9’21
7th: Louis Meintjes (IWG) at 9’24
8th: Aleksandr Vlasov (BOH) at 9’56
9th: Adam Yates (IGD) at 14’33
10th: Enric Mas (MOV) at 16’35
13th: Valentin Madouas (FDJ) at 27’36
15th: Tom Pidcock (IGD) at 32’23
18th: Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) at 41’50