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Tour de France

Tour de France: Brandon McNulty named most aggressive rider after helping Tadej Pogačar to stage win

The American helped pace Tadej Pogačar for most of the final 30 kilometers, setting up the Slovenian for the stage victory.

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Brandon McNulty was awarded the prize for the most aggressive rider for his performance on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

With UAE Team Emirates down to just three support riders for Tadej Pogačar after Marc Soler and Rafał Majka dropped out overnight, McNulty was the only climber left standing for the team.

The 24-year-old American helped set the pace for much of the final 30 kilometers after picking up the work on the front of the group of favorites following a monster turn from Mikkel Bjerg. He peeled off only inside the final kilometer when Pogačar launched an attack that would eventually take him to the stage win.

Soon after crossing the line, Pogačar was heard thanking McNulty for his work, describing him as a “beast.”

“Brandon did an amazing job. He was so good today, I mean he was good all the Tour but especially today. A really special mention goes to him,” Pogačar said in his winner’s interview afterward.

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McNulty picked up the pace setting on the penultimate climb of the day, the Col de Val Louron-Azet with just under 30 kilometers to go. His efforts had a very quick impact with Wout van Aert (jumbo-Visma), Enric Mas (Movistar), and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) being shelled out of the group soon after he took over.

The pain would continue to be dished out with Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) and then Romain Bardet (Team DSM) going off the back, too. Riders from the earlier breakaway were also being caught and distanced as he churned up the road.

Yellow jersey Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) then found himself isolated with three kilometers of the climb still to go as his last man Sepp Kuss was dropped, and then Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) soon lost the wheel. By the time Pogačar attacked near the top of the penultimate climb, the only riders that hadn’t been dropped by the American were his team leader and Vingegaard.

McNulty was only given a brief reprieve from pacing duties when Pogačar attacked, and he was soon on the front again on the descent. There was a scary moment when McNulty had a bit of a wobble on a corner, but he held it together and rode on the front until the final kilometer.

Though Pogačar was not able to crack Vingegaard, he did claw back a small amount of time by virtue of the bonus seconds available on the finish line.