Pogacar collapses on the Col de la Loze and Vingegaard is virtual Tour winner
There was no reaction from Tadej Pogacar in the queen stage of this Tour de France 2023, who gave up shockingly on the Col de la Loze and leaves the final victory on a platter to a solid Jonas Vingegaard. The podium was complicated for Carlos Rodríguez who, in turn, saw how Adam Yates defended the honor of UAE Team Emirates and practically secured the podium.
Jonas Vingegaard becomes virtual winner of Tour de France 2023
We said it yesterday after the time trial. Such an intense effort could take its toll on a day as brutal as the one the race faced in today's stage, undoubtedly the queen stage of this Tour de France.
The cyclists faced a very hard day of more than 5,000 m of vertical drop in the 165 kilometers that separated Sain Gervais Mont Blanc from the ski resort of Courchevel. A real alpine stage with the ascents of the Col de Saisies, Cormet de Roselend, Côte de Longefoy and the Col de la Loze that connects the ski resort of Meribel with Courchevel in a narrow downhill finish instead of finishing at the top as in the Tour won by Egan Bernal in 2020. It would leave the riders with a brutal last kilometer to reach the finish line at the Courchevel aerodrome.
Small breakaway, with Powless, Ciccone, Pedersen, as protagonists, although it would not be until the first ramps of the Col de Saisies when the fight to find the breakaway was definitely unleashed with the usual scramble that has been accompanying the last stages of this Tour de France.
In addition to the innumerable attacks, a small crash suffered by Tadej Pogacar at the start of the climb due to a snag was in the news during the first kilometers of the stage. Apparently without consequences beyond some abrasions. Finally, a large group was formed in which regulars such as Thibaut Pinot, Julian Alaphilippe, Simon Yates, Rigoberto Uran or Pello Bilbao and the presence of two UAE Team Emirates riders: Rafal Majka and Marc Soler.
This made Jumbo-Visma accelerate the pace in the final part of the pass, which even went so far as to cut the peloton in order to seek representation in the breakaway, which in the end achieved in the figure of Tiesj Benoot and Wilco Kelderman who, in turn, dragged more men to the head in which, after the descent, rolled more than 30 units. Except for Alaphilippe's small skirmish on the descent that took Ciccone, Neilands, Skjelmose, Mühlberger and Vermaeke ahead of him, who would start the Cormet de Roselend but would end up being caught.
In the meantime, a curious image in the peloton, where Jumbo-Visma was in charge of the lead, probably trying to keep the pace as high as possible in order to limit the movement of UAE Team Emirates. The proof of the very high pace is that already from the Cormet de Roselend the main group was tremendously reduced, so much so that at some points there were even more riders in the breakaway group than in the leader's group.
Without anything remarkable happening on the Côte de Longefoy, came the race on foot of the ascent to the Col de la Loze and its no less than 28 kilometers of ascent, with a first part, up to the station of Meribel, the first 14 kilometers, quite moderate, around 7% and from there up a real wall that was crowned at more than 2,300 m altitude.
The breakaway started the climb with Ben O'Connor pulling hard and selecting the large group from which units were falling like ripe fruit. Meanwhile, in the peloton there was a strange change of scene when it was INEOS Grenadiers who was setting the pace, with a Jonathan Castroviejo simply portentous that also caused an important selection as the climb progressed, even leaving the leader with only Kuss as the only support although the Dane was not worried because, ahead, Tiesj Benoot and Wilco Kelderman were still there.
After the break through Meribel, O'Connor finished his work up front and it was Chris Harper who took over, setting the pace for a Simon Yates determined to take the stage. O'Connor's teammate Felix Gall and Rafal Majka went with them, the latter waiting for what might happen behind. However, by surprise, it was the Austrian from AG2R Citroën who launched a hard attack to which Simon could not respond and was in pursuit together with Majka and, a few tens of seconds behind, Pello Bilbao and David Gaudu did the same.
Meanwhile, back on the positive slope, in the peloton Castroviejo was moving away after another day of splendid work and Michal Kwiatkowski was setting a strong pace when, all of a sudden, the unexpected happened. Tadej Pogacar was on the wheel of the group and, little by little, he dropped a meter, two, three... his words on the radio, which we could hear a few minutes later, were totally eloquent: "I'm dead" at the same time as his director asked Adam Yates to fight for the podium.
Of course, seeing the situation, Sepp Kuss immediately took the lead and made a few hundred stratospheric meters, which also made Kwiato and Carlos Rodriguez give way, while a solid Adam Yates managed to hold on a little longer, enough to start putting time on Carlos Rodriguez, all with 5 kilometers, very hard, with ramps of up to 20%, still to go.
Jonas Vingegaard also benefited from the fantastic work of his team, linking up first with Tiesj Benoot and, a little later with Wilco Kelderman, fully determined to finish off his performance with a stage victory despite the 2 minutes that separated him from Felix Gall who was unstoppable towards the finish. The Dane was not counting on a bike stuck on those hard ramps and one of the organization's cars, which caused a clog that caused him to lose about ten seconds, although, in any case, it would not have been enough to catch the Austrian.
Simon Yates, who topped the Col de la Loze with a 20-second gap over Gall, was in his sights, but today he couldn't close the gap on the descent to Courchevel despite the limitations that Felix Gall had shown in recent days when the road was pointing downhill. Felix Gall exultantly crested the final ramp at the Courchevel aerodrome with plenty of time to enjoy this tremendous victory and, from there, the timers were set to see how serious Tadej Pogacar's collapse was.
Vingegaard reached the finish line in fourth position behind a powerful Pello Bilbao. It would take 3 minutes and 54 seconds more to see Tadej Pogacar reach the finish line, totally sunk, supported by a willing Marc Soler who had to visibly lift his foot so that the Slovenian did not get unhooked from his wheel. Bad day also for Carlos Rodriguez, who practically said goodbye to his podium option, unless Pogacar sinks further in the Vosges, after losing about a minute with Adam Yates who saved the day for UAE Team Emirates in a stage to forget. However, Felix Gall, Simon Yates and Pello Bilbao moved up in the general classification.
Stage 17 Classification
- Felix Gall (AG2R Citröen) 4h49’08’’
- Simon Yates (Jayco AlUla) +34’’
- Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) +01’38’’
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +01’52’’
- David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +02’09’’
- Tobias Johannessen (Uno-X) +02’39’’
- Chris Harper (Jayco AlUla) +02’50’’
- Rafal Majka (UAE Team Emirates) +03’43’’
- Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) +03’43’’
- Wilco Kelderman (Jumbo-Visma) +03’49’’
- Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 67h57’51’’
- Tadej Pocagar (UAE Team Emirates) +07’35’’
- Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) +10’45’’
- Carlos Rodríguez (INEOS Grenadiers) +12’01’’
- Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla) +12’19’’
- Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) +12’50’’
- Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe) +13’50’’
- Felix Gall (AG2R Citroën) +16’11’’
- Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) +15’49’’
- David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +17’57’’