Pogacar wins Tour de France stage four and takes yellow jersey

Pogacar scoops stage four and takes the yellow jersey
Pogacar scoops stage four and takes the yellow jerseyReuters
Tadej Pogacar (25) made an early statement in the Tour de France as he dropped defending champion Jonas Vingegaard to claim victory in the first mountain stage and take the overall leader's yellow jersey on Tuesday.

The Slovenian attacked 800 metres from the top of the Col du Galibier, when the slope was at its steepest, and only Vingegaard followed but the Dane had to watch his rival fade in the distance 300 metres further ahead.

Pogacar pushed harder on the pedals, briefly looking back, before hitting the descent to Valloire at breakneck speed and gradually increase his lead over Vingegaard, who was then caught by other top contenders, including three-times Vuelta champion Primoz Roglic and Belgian prodigy Remco Evenepoel.

Capping off an impressive show of strength by his UAE Emirates team, Pogacar finished the 139.6-km fourth stage 35 seconds ahead of Evenepoel and Spain's Juan Ayuso.

"It was the plan, and it paid off," his teammate Pavel Sivakov of France said.

Overall, Pogacar leads Evenepoel by 45 seconds.

Vingegaard, who easily responded to Pogacar's first move in the second stage, was just a notch down on Tuesday and finished the day gasping with his head down.

The Visma-Lease a Bike rider, however, can still take comfort from the fact that he had not raced in almost three months after suffering a collapsed lung in the Tour of the Basque Country in April.

He will have the opportunity to make his own statement in Friday's 25.3-km time trial, a year after he humiliated Pogacar in the solo effort against the clock on the Tour, beating him by 98 seconds over 22.4km.

This year's race was billed as a duel between the winners of the last four editions and it is already turning out to be the expected two-man battle, although Slovenian Primoz Roglic and Evenepoel are still in the mix.

They were glued on the road when Pogacar attacked, but limited their losses while former Giro d'Italia champion Richard Carapaz cracked and saw his yellow jersey vanish in the rarefied air of the Col du Galibier, which is 2,642 metres above sea level, losing more than four minutes on the line.

A breakaway group of 17 took shape in the climb to Sestriere (39.9km at 3.7%), the first ascent of the day, but Pogacar's UAE Emirates team and Carapaz's EF Education-Easy Post set the pace at the front of the peloton, keeping the fugitives on a tight leash.

Pogacar's men forced a devilish speed from the Col du Lautaret, the stepping stone of the climb to the Galibier, whose flanks were covered in snow.

Vingegaard was without a teammate when Matteo Jorgenson cracked 4.5km from the top while Pogacar still had Adam Yates, Ayuso and Joao Almeida by his side.

Shortly before the summit, Pogacar burst away and Vingegaard followed before gasping for air and letting the 2020 and 2021 champion ride away.


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