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pass of three for Tadej Pogacar to Luz Ardiden

There is a popular adage in the peloton: “The best defense is attack. ” Bahrain Victorious applied it to the letter, Thursday July 15, during the 18e stage of the Tour de France 2021, between Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and Luz Ardiden (Hautes-Pyrénées) under the eyes of the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron.

A few hours after a night search in their hotel, on the basis of a preliminary investigation, opened on the counts of “acquisition, transport, possession, importation of a substance or method prohibited for use by an athlete without justification. medical ”, the training set its mark on the last day in the mountains of this edition.

Read also Tour de France 2021: Tadej Pogacar wins at Luz Ardiden for the third time and consolidates his yellow jersey

“We are more determined than ever to be as good as we have been so far … We are extremely motivated to take these final steps”, had warned Matej Mohoric a few minutes before the start on Thursday.

The champion of Slovenia – who has already won this Tour in the 7e stage in Creusot (Saône-et-Loire) – therefore attacked from the start. His team-mate Wout Poels, wearing the polka-dot jersey, also showed up at the front in an unsuccessful offense, as the team drove the first 50 kilometers ahead of the peloton to control the pace.

But after the victory of the yellow jersey Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), the day before at the Portet pass (Hautes-Pyrénées), in front of the Dane Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers), the looks were turned towards the top trio of the general for this final finish at the top of the Tour.

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates) during his victory in the 18th stage of the Tour de France, between Pau and Luz Ardiden, on July 15.

It was only three kilometers from the finish that Tadej Pogacar decided to do a bit of cleaning up, putting in a first acceleration, when his lieutenant, the Pole Rafał Majka, had just let go.

Four men hold: the American Sepp Kuss and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), Richard Carapaz, and the Spaniard Enric Mas (Movistar). The American lets go. The Spaniard is playing his game. But Pogacar did not let it go and 500 meters from the finish, the Slovenian drove the point home to sign his third stage victory on this Grande Boucle.

He is also adding a new jersey to his outfit: that of the best climber.

Combative Gaudu of the day

The program of this 19e short stage – 129.7 kilometers – included two fourth category climbs in the first half, an intermediate sprint, then two non-category passes: the Tourmalet (17.1 km at 7.3%) then the climb to Luz-Ardiden (13.3 km at 7.4%).

Five men rode at the front in the first half of the stage: Matej Mohoric, therefore, the Danish Christopher Juul-Jensen (BikeExchange), the American Sean Bennett (Qhubeka NextHash) as well as the French Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Qiock -Step) and Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis) – the latter, who started against, ended up joining the trio 90 km from the finish.

Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), on the left, and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck Quickstep), during the ascent of the Tourmalet during the 18th stage of the Tour de France between Pau and Luz Ardiden, on July 15.

Mohoric and Alaphilippe will stay ahead a little before being swallowed up by a group made up of David Gaudu and Valentin Madouas (Groupama FDJ), Kenny Elissonde (Trek-Segafredo), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies), Ion Izaguirre and Omar Fraile (Astana Premier) Tech) and Ruben Guerreiro (EF Education Nippo) 6 km from the top of Tourmalet.

The new collective will explode a few hundred meters further. In the peloton, the Ineos-Grenadiers impose the train.

It is alone in the lead that David Gaudu will start the climb of Luz Ardiden. But less than ten kilometers from the finish, it is taken over by the yellow jersey group led by the Polish Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos-Grenadiers).

The Frenchman’s efforts were however rewarded with the combative prize. The big loser of the day is the Colombian Rigoberto Uran (EF Education Nippo), who comes out of the top 10 overall.

Mask required

Unsurprisingly, the first uncategorized ascent made Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step) bend. But no worries for the best sprinter of the Tour, surrounded by four team members responsible for keeping him on schedule.

After defending his green jersey in the intermediate sprint, the Britannic had only one goal: to stay on schedule and manage his effort before Friday’s stage, between Mourenx (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and Libourne (Gironde).

It will be a return to the flat and the sprint for the antepenultimate stage of the Tour de France, 207 km long. Return of the obligatory mask wearing for spectators in the Landes. A prefecture decree requires it from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for anyone over the age of eleven in a space of 20 meters on either side of the Tour de France route.

This health obligation had already been instituted by the Gironde prefecture for the portion of the race planned in the department, where the entire 20e stage: that of the Libourne and Saint-Emilion time trial.

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