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BESANÇON, France (VN) — Jumbo-Visma may have been beaten on the Tour de France’s first summit finish on the Planche des Belles Filles, but Sepp Kuss is looking for the positives.
Jonas Vingegaard came close to taking victory on the stage with a late attack but ultimately finished second after being caught and passed by Tadej Pogačar. Meanwhile, Primož Roglič — who is still recovering from a high-speed crash on stage 5 — came over the line in third place at 12 seconds back.
Pogačar looked as good as ever as he caught and passed Vingegaard. However, Kuss says that the style of finish was extremely well-suited to Pogačar and that Vingegaard was able to keep close was a good sign for the even bigger mountain stages to come.
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“It was really good, especially that Primož was there after the crash he had a few days ago. It shows he’s coming back and, of course, Jonas we know is really strong, but I think a stage like today is perfect for Pogačar, a 20-minute climb with a punchy finish. With Jonas and Primož and the way that they did today we can be confident when the big mountains come,” Kuss said.
“I think it’s a good sign that he was that close because normally it would be a more convincing win because it’s the perfect finish for Pogačar. I think Jonas is getting better and better, and when the big Alpine stages come, he will be even stronger than he is now.”
Vingegaard was the only major GC contender that tried to put in some time to Pogačar during stage 7. The Dane launched a stinging attack close to the line and briefly distanced the Slovenian, but he ran out of steam just before the line.
With the extra bonus seconds that Pogačar got for taking victory, Vingegaard is now 35 seconds behind in the overall classification. He is still within touching distance of the yellow with many more mountain stages to come.
“It was a tough last kilometer but I think everybody in the group more or less knew that it was going to come down to the last 500 meters or so because it’s so steep and also the last guys in the break were still out there. They had to make a steady pace,” Kuss said.
“I think that gives Jonas a lot of confidence that he can be that close to him on a finish that’s really suited for him and maybe less for Jonas. The whole team is really strong, and we’re really motivated.”
After struggling to dismount his bike, Roglič told the press that he felt as though he was being stabbed in the back when he pedaled in the saddle. He is having ride through a lot of pain following his crash earlier this week, which saw him dislocate his shoulder, but Kuss says it’s not unexpected to see him still pushing hard near the front of the pack.
“It’s not surprising, he’s always fighting despite setbacks, and for any rider, it’s hard to ride at your best level after a crash, especially when you want to be in top form. It’s also mentally being able to be resilient and he shows that,” Kuss said.