The only rider to make any time on Pogačar was Ben O’Connor who soloed to stage victory and catapulted himself up the overall standings to step onto the virtual podium. The Australian rider only secured his cycling future late last year, but he spent much of Sunday’s stage in a battle for the yellow jersey.
It seemed like O’Connor might take the maillot jaune, until Ineos Grenadiers wound up the pace on the final climb. The British squad couldn’t follow through on their threat and Pogačar raced away from the group to put at least 30 seconds over most of his rivals.
The stage started with two major abandons in Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix). The two riders may have felt quite pleased with their decision as they saw their colleagues battling it through wet and cold conditions.
Here’s what the stars said after another drama-filled day on the Tour de France.
Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën) – stage winner
Ben O’Connor had plenty of time to contemplate his stage win as he rode up the final climb to Tignes alone with a significant gap over the main GC contenders. With a victory almost certain, O’Connor had to keep calm and make it to the finish line without any mishaps.
“It was always the dream. Just to be here in the first place is already the first dream, and to achieve this is I think is a testament to the people who have put faith in me over the years. My fiancée, my parents, my best mates back in Australia, my friends in Andorra, my friends in Girona, it has been a wild ride. It’s mind-blowing.
“It’s what you dream of. It’s so fulfilling and there’s so much joy. I’m managing to control myself now compared to when I crossed the line. I’m just loving every single moment. I’m so happy for Ag2r-Citroën who have had so much faith in me this year. It’s so clear how much happiness this has brought to us as a team. It’s special.
“I was scared that Tadej was going to explode from behind and chase me down when the road got hard. I opened the time gap, so I knew for a long time if I stayed steady and didn’t cramp, I could win the stage. I had faith the whole time, it was just about making sure I didn’t panic because as soon as you think I’m going to win a stage of the Tour de France all sorts of things to your mind, your lungs, your heart. It can make your heart stop and it definitely made mine stop just before.”
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) – Yellow jersey, 6th on stage
Tadej Pogačar cemented his place at the top of the standings ahead of the Tour de France’s first rest day. The defending champion and yellow jersey rode away from most of his rivals on the road to Tignes, as he continued to dominate the overall classification.
He holds a lead of 2:01 on Ben O’Connor with Rigoberto Urán in third overall at 5:18.
“Today was really bad, yesterday was bad today was really worse than yesterday. It was super cold and raining all day and a lot of guys suffered today in this weather. I’m glad to be over it and to have a rest day tomorrow.
“For sure, it’s going to be difficult but I’m more worried about the stages that are coming. That’s where I suffered the most and so I have tried to enjoy these stages. Ben was super strong today, what a ride, and congrats to him. I was scared a little bit towards the end, but I accelerated to make sure that I stayed I yellow.”
Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) – 19th on the stage
After days of struggling with injury, Geraint Thomas put in a strong ride on the final climb in an attempt to help Richard Carapaz gain time on his rivals. The tactic didn’t work as Pogačar rode away from Carapaz, but the performance gave Thomas something to smile about and a bit more confidence in his shape heading into the second week.
“I think it was just because I got a chance to get into the stage a bit. I think that yesterday it started right on a climb, and I was on my arse, and they kept racing so I didn’t get back. I felt 10 times better today. I was still swinging, don’t get me wrong.
“It was a hard start and I just managed to get in there. Then, I was a lot more up for it. I was yesterday but after such a poor performance, I was keen to rectify that. An extra coffee on the bus and a bit more attitude. Then, I felt ok once we got on the long climbs. We tried to up the pace at the end to try and put the other guys around [Richard Carapaz] put them on the back foot.”