Jonas Vingegaard was the strongest. The Yellow Jersey won Thursday at the top of Hautacam, during the 18th stage of the Tour de France, ahead of Tadej Pogacar who crossed the line 1’04 behind. While he will still have to manage the Rocamadour time trial on Saturday, the Dane is almost certain to win the Tour de France since he is 3’26 ahead of the Slovenian.
Among the French, David Gaudu managed the climb to Hautacam very well and took fourth place in the general classification in Nairo Quintana while Romain Bardet, still on a complicated day, lost two places and advanced to eighth place.
Vingegaard on the job in Hautacam
4km from the summit of Hautacam where another Yellow Jersey, Vincenzo Nibali, had completed his Tour de France 2014, Jonas Vingegaard therefore dropped everything, especially Tadej Pogacar. In the wheel of Wout van Aert, tireless model teammate who spent the day at the forefront, he made the Slovenian give up a second time in this Tour, three days from Paris.
Alone at the top, with a 1’04 lead over Pogacar and with the polka dot jersey, taken from a tearful Simon Geschke at the finish, “Vingo” was once again serene in this last mountain stage. Only a small fright in the descent of the Col de Spandelles, penultimate difficulty of the day, could have destabilized him, when he came close to falling in a bend.
All of Jonas Vingegaard’s victories this season have taken place in French races (4 victories): Drôme Classic, 8th stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné and 11th and 18th stages of the Tour de France.
His opponent did not have the same luck, neither in his attacks, nor in this same descent. Tadej Pogacar missed his braking in a bend and fell at low speed into the gravel. Nothing serious, just a torn shorts on the left side and a small disbursement on the Yellow Jersey who, great prince, waited for him, accepting the handshake in thanks.
Pogacar claps the hand of Vingegaard who waited for him when the Slovenian had fallen. (E. Garnier/The Team)
Pogacar tried again
On his attacks, the Slovenian has nothing to be ashamed of. He tried. Still and always. 5.8 km from the top of the Col de Spandelles, he landed the first of his four accelerations. Each time, Vingegaard accompanied him, to the point of disgusting him. In Hautacam, the white jersey clung to the tempo led first by Sepp Kuss then by Wout van Aert. 4.4 km from the finish, he gave up on a third victory in the Tour, except for a non-sporting reversal of the race by July 24, since the delay seems far too large to be erased during the Saturday timeline.
If he has often been on a par with the Dane of the Jumbo, Pogacar will have cracked twice, in the climb of the Granon and this Thursday. His ardor was not enough and the well-oiled tactics of the Jumbo who had wrung him out of their incessant attacks before Vingegaard delivered the knockout blow in the Granon last week, will remind him that he is still more pleasant. to have a reliable team around you.
Gaudu, fourth man of the Tour
This is what David Gaudu must also say to himself. Once again, Valentin Madouas was immense in towing the Breton in Hautacam to allow him to regain as much time as possible from Nairo Quintana for Saturday’s time trial. About ten kilometers from the summit, the two friends cracked the Colombian to scratch fourth place overall. Gaudu is 2’30” ahead of the now fifth in the Tour.
The conclusion is quite different for Romain Bardet, who barely finished this Tour de France. Dropped early on the slopes of the Col de Spandelles, the DSM rider finished 17th in the stage and overall, he finds himself in a soft underbelly, eighth with another four minutes ahead of Alexey Lutsenko, ninth, but two minutes behind Aleksandr Vlasov, seventh.