Pogačar finished the stage with torn shorts and some road rash, and was quick to thank his direct rival for sitting up during the heat of the battle to wait for him.
“I have nothing but respect to Jonas Vingegaard. I think we respect each other a lot,” Pogačar said. “When he decided to wait for me after my crash, he was on a good position to do it as he had teammates all over the road. It was fine for him to wait. It’s me who wanted to go fast on the descent, but I pushed it too far and crashed – can’t blame anyone for that.”
The incident happened as Pogačar was trying to snatch back the yellow jersey in a desperate final-hour bid.
The yellow jersey was under attack on the descent from Pogačar, who started at 2:18 in arrears, as the pair led the way down the narrow and treacherous descent of the Col de Spandelles with everything in play in the 2022 Tour’s final major mountain stage.
Pogačar already uncorked a string of searing accelerations on the climb to put Vingegaard under pressure on the first-category pass high in the French Pyrénées.
Once on the descent, Pogačar continued to push and Vingegaard nearly crashed when his left pedal hit his front wheel coming through a corner, but he was able to stay upright despite a high-speed wobble.
Moments later, Pogačar swept wide through a left corner, rode slightly off the asphalt, and lost control of his front wheel in loose dirt and gravel. Pogačar fell on his left shoulder and hip but quickly remounted.
“I don’t know, but for sure it’s not nice to crash,” Pogačar said. “I was pushing it and I crashed, so it was my fault and nothing else. In the end, Jonas was really, really strong on the final climb.”
Vingegaard was leading through the corner and was clear up the road. When the yellow jersey realized that Pogačar was not on his wheel, he checked back to see his direct rival chasing.
Rather than keep pressing the action, Vingegaard soft-pedaled until Pogačar was able to regain contact.
The pair shook hands in a sporting gesture in one of the 2022 Tour’s most intense moments and then recommenced the battle.
“I think he kind of missed the corner and then he went down into some gravel,” Vingegaard said. “Then he tried to steer it out, then the bike disappeared under him. Then I waited for him. Luckily today I think I have to thank all my teammates.
“Incredible. You could see Wout Van Aert dropping Tadej Pogačar in the end. Sepp Kuss was incredible. Everyone was incredible. Tiesj, Christophe and Natha. They were all incedible today. So thanks so much to my teammates, I could never have done this without them.”