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Wout van Aert delivered the final pulls of punishment on Pogačar on Thursday’s 18th stage of the Tour de France as Jonas Vingegaard’s five-rider wrecking crew visited vengeance on UAE Emirates for the pressure it squeezed the day before.
“I don’t think I needed to attack. It was better for me to hold a steady pace which we did. They said in the radio that they think Tadej was on the limit, and Wout gave absolutely everything he had. And then Tadej dropped,” Vingegaard said after the stage.
Jumbo-Visma unleashed a team masterpiece befitting of its art-inspired jersey Thursday.
The sprint points classification leader surged until Jumbo-Visma’s archrival was unshackled.
“I would have tried to attack later on because I had that feeling on the last climb – but I didn’t have to attack him [i.e., Pogačar – ed],” Vingegaard said after he romped to solo victory and extended his GC lead to more than three minutes.
— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 21, 2022
Jumbo-Visma came out blazing on a short and scintillating stage through the Pyrénées on Thursday.
Pogačar had three upper category passes across a pocket-size parcours to play with in his final major opportunity to dig into a 2:18 deficit.
The Slovenian supremo was never given the opportunity to move as Jumbo-Visma unleashed a multi-rider play straight out of a team tactic playbook.
“The Col du Granon stage and today are two really good examples of how strong this team is. I think everyone in this team is so incredibly strong and I’m so happy to have such a strong team around me,” Vingegaard said.
“To have Wout van Aert the best rider in the world as a helper, of course, he has his own ambition with the green jersey. Not only Wout but everyone was incredibly strong today. I have to thank them so many times for today.”
Sketchy on the Spandelles
It wasn’t inch perfect for Vingegaard. Sketchy moments on the tight and technical Spandelles descent in the final hour of the stage saw the Dane survive a rear wheel slide in what was a heart-in-mouth moment.
“I dropped my chain and I tried to pedal and then I didn’t have friction and my back wheel slipped,” Vingegaard explained.
Just minutes later, Pogačar overcooked a corner in the heat of the chase and tumbled into the verge.
“I think Tadej went a bit too quick into one corner and he missed it a bit and he was out in the ditch and gravel. He then tried to get back on the road and the bike flipped,” Vingegard said. “That’s unfortunate for Tadej, but of course I waited for him.”
Vingegaard held back and waited for Pogačar after the white jersey hit the dirt in a mark of sporting respect.
With the Paris podium now just 72 hours up the road, Vingegaard won’t be waiting for Pogačar to catch back much longer.