Wednesday 07 July 2021
Van Aert with a tour surprise
The “heavyweight” conquers the climbers
A special stage finds a special winner: The all-rounder Wout Van Aert leaves the climbing experts behind and is the first to cross the legendary Mont Ventoux twice. Meanwhile, the child prodigy Tadej Pogacar is on the way to becoming another Tour Champion.
Tadej Pogacar also dominated the competition in the lunar landscape of the mythical Mont Ventoux and took the next big step towards another Tour victory. With the impressive victory of “heavyweight” Wout Van Aert on the brutal double climb on the bald giants of Provence, the 22-year-old defending champion significantly increased his lead in the overall standings – but had to let a rival pull on the mountain for the first time.
“Words fail me. I did not expect to be able to win this stage, I would not have bet on it before the tour,” said Van Aert at Eurosport: “This is such an iconic climb. Perhaps it will be my best win ever . “
The Slovenian Pogacar reached the finish of the eleventh stage of the 108th Tour de France after the frenzied descent from the notorious 1910 meter high summit 1:38 minutes behind the winner. And this was a remarkable one after 198.9 kilometers in Malaucene.
The child prodigy before defending his title
The Belgian all-rounder Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who won 1:14 minutes ahead of Frenchman Kenny Elissonde, had only just been beaten by British Blitz Mark Cavendish in the Valence sprint the day before. Now he duped all climbing aces with his around 80 kilograms.
In the overall standings, Pogacar leads the Colombian Rigoberto Uran with 5:18 minutes. Third is the young Dane Jonas Vingegaard (5:32). Team-mate Van Aerts attacked with the man in the yellow jersey shortly before the second summit passage on the Ventoux and finally pulled away from Pogacar – but Pogacar came back on the descent. The previous runner-up Ben O’Connor (Australia) fell back significantly.
Only a fall or a major break-in in the Pyrenees can prevent child prodigy Pogacar from becoming the youngest double champion in tour history. At least the latter seems unlikely after the previous appearances of the UAE captain.
With the stage, the organizers had created a novelty in 118 years of tour history. For the first time, the Mont Ventoux was crossed twice using different routes. Even if the goal was not on the summit but in the valley town of Malaucene, it was an extraordinary drag.
Martin’s tour of suffering is over
“In the end, it makes no difference whether we climb another mountain or climb the Ventoux twice – it’s spectacular for the fans,” said German climber Emanuel Buchmann, who again refrained from attacking and supported Bora captain Wilco Kelderman: ” I don’t feel so good after the rainy stages in the Alps. “
Before the key stage, Pogacar had again been confronted with the question of whether and how a professional cyclist of his age could perform such performances properly. “I answered them and also provided facts,” said Pogacar, more honestly than annoyed: “I don’t know what else I can do to prove my innocence.”
For Tony Martin, however, a completely screwed-up tour of suffering came to an abrupt end. The four-time world time trial champion, second in the stage on the Ventoux in 2009, fell after about 30 kilometers on a straight stretch. The 36-year-old sat with blood-covered legs in the ditch and finally climbed into an ambulance. “That was a really bad start for us. I think Tony lost a few teeth,” said Frans Maassen, Sports Director at Team Jumbo-Visma.
Martin fell badly on the first stage when he collided with the cardboard sign of a spectator, which triggered a mass crash – the strong performance of his jumbo team at least made up for something.