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Tour de France

Tadej Pogačar doesn’t deliver in rare divot from Tour de France dominance

'For sure it's a little bit disappointing but third is great.' Pogačar can't complete team leadout in stage 8 sprint but extends GC lead over Vingegaard.

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Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) came away disappointed for perhaps the first time in the Tour de France.

The defending champ was bettered by Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) on stage 8 of the Tour on Saturday after UAE Emirates emptied the tank to set up its Slovenian champ on the Lausanne hilltop.

“I think yes [I’m disappointed], it was not that far away,” Pogačar said at the finish.

“The last climb, I kind of liked it, and for the sprint maybe I hesitated a bit and Van Aert passed me on triple speed. For sure it is a little bit disappointing but third place is great.”

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Bottom step of the podium in Lausanne marks a tiny divot in the imperious form that delivered Pogačar crushing TT and cobblestone coups, and victories atop kicking climbs and gravel mountaintops this week.

Despite the disappointment, the Tour’s defending dominator didn’t leave the stage without something to smile about.

Closest classification rival Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) finished eighth in the uphill kick and lost time to the Slovenian on bonus seconds, leaving Pogačar 39 seconds clear.

The yellow jersey also emerged unscathed from a pileup early in the stage that forced DSM rookie Kevin Vermaerke out of the race and left many bashed and bruised.

“I was in the middle of the crash, I hit the ground but not so much, it was one of the softest crashes I have ever experienced,” he said. “We came back quite fast and it was OK.”

Pogačar won three stages in both the 2020 and 2021 Tours de France.

The Lausanne final put him in the picture for repeating the feat after just eight days of racing and would have handed him a hat-trick of consecutive victories.

After crushing cobbles, grinding mountain gravel, and out-punching the puncheurs already this week, maybe there is a chink in Pogačar’s armor after all.

“I always like sprinting, but when I was younger I was almost always last. I’m really happy that now, at least when it’s going up 4-5k in the end I can do a solid sprint,” Pogačar said.

Another upward pointing finish in the Châtel Les Portes du Soleil after a day in the mountains Sunday might give Pogačar another opportunity to fine-tune that final punch.