Thathej Bhogar’s hope to depose Jonas Wingegard Tour de France The leader was switched off after the final mountain race in the Pyrenees, in which the Dane increased his overall lead, with only three stages remaining in this year’s race.
A son Cole to Cranon, Bocagar lost contact with Wingegard halfway up the final climb after the Slovenian pulled away from his Jumbo-Wisma teammate Vaud van Aert. Wingegard rode Haudagam to claim his second hilltop stage win, with Bocagar crossing the finish line a minute later.
The last day of the tour in the mountains brought more heat and misery before it turned back and began the journey north towards Paris. Bokar, one of the worst sufferers, finished the stage with torn shorts after crashing on the descent of the final climb. Once again, the leading duo surpassed their peers.
After Chris Froome withdrew before the start due to a positive Covid test, they headed for the final climb of the day, the short climb of the Col de Spandels. Boggar’s accelerations matched Wingegard’s tenacity, but there was more drama to come in the descent. Bogakar, trying to apply even more pressure and force the pace, saw the race leader’s rear wheel slip on a curve, but Wingegard somehow recovered and stayed upright.
“I dropped my chain and I tried to pedal,” Dane said. “Of course, you don’t have friction, so my back wheel slipped, it was a small mistake, but I was able to make it back to Tadej.”
After a while, it’s Boggar’s turn to get it wrong. He overcooked a left-hand bend and sprawled into the gravel on the side of the road. Once he got to his feet, Wingegard slowed down and freewheeled up the climb until the defending champion regained his composure. As the double Tour winner stepped back, the pair shook hands in recognition of the Dane’s sporting prowess.
“Of course I was waiting for him,” Wingegaard said. “Tathej went a bit too fast in a corner and he went off the ditch and gravel and then tried to get back on the road and the bike overturned.”
With Thibaut Pinot and Geraint Thomas’ Ineos Grenadiers captain Dani Martinez, Van Aert climbed the final split up to Haudagam.
But by the time the trio entered the final six kilometres, the Vingegaard-Pogacar sprint was closing in, and Van Aert had to forget about his personal ambitions and resume support rider duties.
“The Gol du Cranon situation and today are two great examples of how strong this team is,” Wingegaard said. “I’m very happy to have a strong team around me. To have Woud van Aert, the best rider in the world, as an assistant, the green jersey. They are all incredibly strong, so I have to thank them many times.
Down the hill, Thomas was going through the mill again. Despite attempts by both David Gaudu and Nairo Quintana to overtake him, his resilience and guile saw him third overall in one of his most efficient tour performances.
“I was going through highs and lows today,” said the Welshman. “When it started I felt good and started riding at my own pace.
“On the last climb I wanted to stay with them until the steep bit, but I struggled there and had a bad connection. I went around a bit and changed my bike once. [after a puncture]. “We have tomorrow with a crosswind all day because nothing is straightforward in this race,” he told Cahors after Friday’s stage. “But I’ll try and recover and get ready for the time trial.”
Wingegard now leads Boggar by almost three and a half minutes. There is a final chapter in private time hearings on Saturday, before the formal stage in Paris on Sunday afternoon. The Dane doesn’t want to talk about it yet, but barring an unprecedented disaster, the race is won.
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