Tadej Pogacar: 22 years old. Three Grand Tours, nine Grand Tour stage wins. One Tour de France victory, another slated for Sunday, and a podium in his Grand Tour debut at the 2019 Vuelta. The crown prince of professional cycling. #TDF2021 pic.twitter.com/2yC3SLRh3c
Any cycling fans out there? Check out this signed Jersey by 2020 Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar! Please donate to win, all proceeds go to MND Ireland www.idonate.ie/raffle/Raffle4IMNDA pic.twitter.com/38rxglTTXq
Geraint Thomas on defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar: “I don’t think he’s unbreakable but as [Ineos Grenadiers manager] Dave [Brailsford] would say, he’s like bamboo. He bends, but rarely snaps.” #TDF2021
Sepp Kuss wins first Tour de France stage but Tadej Pogacar retains lead - The Guardian apple.news/AwQtGkddaQHmBwFkj85MTVw
Who won the Tour de France today?
Tadej Pogacar wins Tour de France Stage 18! The defending champion claims a second stage win in as many days! That was total dominance. Enric Mas tried to burst away for Movistar Team with 700m to race, but Pogacar covered the move, and sprinted away up the final slope to take the glory. The GuardianTour de France: Pogacar confirms dominance with win on stage 18 – as it happened
15 July, 2021 - 12:52pm
Tour de France 2021 - 'I would have liked to have seen something different' - Wiggins on Pogacar's rivals
15 July, 2021 - 12:52pm
15 July, 2021 - 11:21am
Another dominant display from Tadej Pogacar in the mountains has all but sealed the overall race - with the Slovenian 22-year-old mopping up the polka-dot and white jerseys for good measure. The GC battle may have been effectively over for a while, but there is plenty of intrigue left in the final three stages - especially for British fans, as they urge Mark Cavendish on to a historic 35th Tour stage win. I’ll be back tomorrow to see if he can pull it off. Bye for now.
William Fotheringham’s pre-race preview for Stage 19 makes no mention of a certain Mark Cavendish. And why would it? The Manxman was drafted into the race at the last minute, and even then, the idea of him winning multiple stages was far-fetched. But here we are. Cavendish would break Eddy Merckx’s all-time record if he wins tomorrow - or, of course, in Paris on Sunday.
The sprinters will have been attempting to survive for the last few days, with this stage and Sunday’s run in to Paris in their minds. That’s enough incentive for most of them but the outcome of the stage may depend on how many of their teammates have got through the mountains as well. Five successive mountain stages may see off more of the domestiques than usual, and it might see off sprinters who really can’t climb like Kristoff or Ewan. So it’s a day for perhaps a rider like Matthews or Colbrelli, who will deal with the mountains better than most.
Out stage 18 report is coming up shortly. Meanwhile, here is Jeremy Whittle’s story from earlier today about an investigation being opened into Bahrain Victorious, following last night’s police raid on the team hotel in Pau:
It sounds like President Macron’s Tour de France trip to press the flesh isn’t quite going to plan:
Guillaume Martin doesn't even look at Macron. Talks to Prudhomme, who tries to include the President of the Republic in the conversation.
Pogacar is only the fourth rider to win consecutive summit finishes at the Tour. Geraint Thomas is one of the others.
💛@TamauPogi averaged 22.4km/h in the final 5km of stage 18, and 23.7km/h in the final 3km, to become the 4th rider to dominate two consecutive summit finishes in @LeTour history ⛰️#TDF2021 #TDFdata pic.twitter.com/FjeNdGBQEr
Pogacar has the polka-dots wrapped up. He now has 107 points after taking double points atop Luz Ardiden, with Poels of Bahrain Victorious on 88, and Vingegaard of Jumbo-Visma on 82.
Cavendish is now coming across the finish line! He is still in the race, by about six minutes, and now has two more chances to win stages and break that record. Cavendish and his Deceuninck-Quick-Step teammates are all smiles as they make it home safely with mission accomplished.
Top 10 in GC after Stage 18:
The French president Emmanuel Macron is at the stage finish, trying to get a photo with the world champion Julian Alaphilippe.
Wout van Aert speaks to Eurosport: “Until 5km to go we had 75% of the team [three riders, that is] in the first group ... we hoped to go again for the stage today ... in the end, Vingegaard got beaten by Pogacar who was probably stronger ...”
Halfway through the interview, Vingegaard comes and embraces Van Aert, and thanks him for his efforts.
Van Aert goes on: “It’s special to see how Vingegaard is handling the pressure. It’s really deserved. The special thing about it is that he didn’t expect to be in the GC race.”
Vingegaard speaks to ITV: “I was not feeling super-great, but I was sure that it was just a mental fight ... I was sure if I could suffer a lot, I would still be with the best guys ... we are not in Paris yet, but it looks really good now [for him to finish on the podium].
There are still 25 minutes to go until the time cut.
Pogacar speaks: “It’s unbelievable ... after yesterday, today, I don’t know - I felt good and I’m really happy with the win ... it’s crazy. It’s a game for me, of course, it’s been a game since I started [cycling] and I’m enjoying playing it, yeah, I’m super happy ... maybe 50 per cent chance [of winning the Tour] it’s still three days, but it looks good ... It was super hard ... I just tried to forget about everything and focus.”
Is he worried about Vingegaard before the TT on Saturday? “Why should I be worried? ... Sometimes you can have a really bad day on a TT ... let’s hope it’s not a repeat [of what he did to Roglic last year].”
Pogacar enjoys a can of drink and shakes hands with Kuss and Vingegaard. Quintana, who was hoping for more today, rolls in six minutes down on the winner.
It was double points at the top of Luz Ardiden in the KOM competition, so Pogacar assumes the lead in the polka-dot race. Poels, who is currently wearing the jersey, is just rolling in now.
Pogacar just needs to stay upright for stages 19, 20 and 21, and he will be crowned Tour de France champion for the second year in a row.
The defending champion claims a second stage win in as many days! That was total dominance. Enric Mas tried to burst away for Movistar Team with 700m to race, but Pogacar covered the move, and sprinted away up the final slope to take the glory. It never really looked in doubt.
700m to go: Mas attacks for Movistar! He has a gap!
1km to go: The final kilometre of pure climbing on the Tour. Mas leads the way for Movistar at the moment. But Pogacar, looking supremely relaxed, moves ahead again.
1.5km to go: Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation) has attacked from the group behind and is trying to catch the leaders!
2.2km to go: Apparently Pogacar’s parents are waiting at the top of Luz Ardiden, to cheer their son home. Extra motivation.
3km to go: Carapaz, Kuss, Vingegaard and Mas and the other riders in the group with Pogacar - we are down to five. Kuss is riding on the front. The fans shout manically and wave their flags as the riders rumble past.
3.5km to go: “Re: yesterday & Carapaz. Personally, I don’t see the problem,” emails Jonathan Taylor “A.) Valid tactic. B.) Did Pog do any different last year. He just sat on the Jumbo-Visma wheels for the entire trip. As they say whats good for the goose ...”
Pogacar attacks at the front!
4km to go: It’s 18’30” for the Cavendish group now, but they should still be fine for the time cutoff, unless the Manxman completely blows up on this final climb.
4.5km to go: Majka powers on up the climb, dancing on the pedals, with his Slovenian teammate right on his wheel. Third wheel in the group is Castroviejo of Ineos Grenadiers, and he looks like he’s really suffering with this pace.
5.5km to go: Geoghegan Hart now drops off the front. The Polish rider, Rafal Majka of UAE Team Emirates, takes it up at the head of the race with Pogacar on his wheel.
Surely, if Pogacar wants another stage win, it’s in the bag for him now. He looks fresh as a daisy.
6km to go: After the tomfoolery of yesterday, when Carapaz did no work to help Vingegaard and Pogacar on the final climb, will Pogacar be all the more motivated to deny him a stage win if he can?
6.5km to go: Cavendish and his buddies are 16’13” behind the front of the race. So if 37mins is the approximate time cutoff, they should be fine.
Poels, apparently, was immediately dropped again having managed to make it back into the lead group.
We’re treated to some picturesque helicopter shots from a distance as the riders snake up the climb. Lutsenko, of Astana, is dropped.
7.5km to go: This is all going to kick off in a major way pretty soon. Near the front of the bunch, Pogacar stands up on his pedals, moving with that apparently effortless cadence up the mountain. Will he take a second stage win in two days?
Poels has managed to make some ground up - and has nearly found his way back to the lead group. Geoghegan Hart is visibly suffering.
9km to go: Tao Geoghegan Hart takes it up at the front for the Ineos Grenadiers. His jersey is wide open as he tries to keep cool on this sweaty climb. Jonathan Castroviejo, sitting on his wheel, looks comfortable and ready to put in a big dig of his own.
Poels is dropped by the front group - which only increases the chances of Pogacar claiming the KOM jersey in Paris.
9.5km to go: Kwiatkowski hunts down Gaudu, whose hopes of the stage win are over. Ineos Grenadiers pump past him.
9.5km to go: It looks unlikely ...
@LukeMcLaughlin this is it! Gaudu, the nouveau-Pinot, is going to Get A Stomp On and smash this!!!!!
10km to go: Gaudu fights on. Back down the road, Wout Poels looks to be in trouble and is starting to labour, having looked so sprightly on the Tourmalet.
The noise of the crowd is cranking up, with hundreds of fans lining the road on each side.
11km to go: GC hopefuls such as Mas, Kelderman, O’Connor and Lutsenko are all present and correct in the group of 41 riders which is closing in on Gaudu.
The Frenchman is fighting with everything he’s got, and trying to stay away. Van Baarle is spent - he gives way to Michal Kwiatkowski now at the front of the race.
11.5km to go: Van Baarle has produced a massively powerful ride today, and he is still working on the front for Ineos Grenadiers. The gap to Gaudu falls to 12”. He will be caught soon.
12.5km to go: Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) is going for broke, but his lead is only 20”, and Ineos Grenadiers are continuing to work, trying to set up Richard Carapaz for the stage win.
It’s been a valiant effort by the Frenchman, Gaudu, to get away but it looks like his hopes will be over soon enough.
15km to go: The final major climb of the 2021 Tour de France - Luz Ardiden - is 13.4km long with an average gradient of 7.4%.
There are 42 riders in the front group, many of whom will have designs on the stage win.
19km to go: Gaudu is on the valley floor. He’s more than 15 mins ahead of Cavendish, the green jersey, but 46” ahead of the chasing group.
The peloton has split behind - Pogacar is safely in the front group - along with Vingegaard and Carapaz.
22km to go: It’s clear that Gaudu knows this descent off the Tourmalet incredibly well. There’s simply no way he could be riding at this pace if he didn’t.
25km to go: The Cavendish group - which is the green jersey, and now four teammates - are still climbing the Tourmalet. They are nearly 14 minutes behind the front of the race.
The estimated time cutoff is around 37 minutes.
27km to go: Gaudu going for it.
28km to go: Gaudu is absolutely flying down this mountain and is nearly 40 seconds ahead of Latour now. He looks incredibly fluent and confident as he tears around the corners and pedals as hard as possible on the flatter sections. He is going for this.
30km to go: Media jokes about newspapers abound on Twitter:
Print is dead, they said. 🥶 pic.twitter.com/6REAeoRE0t
32km to go: “Great to see Pierre Latour take the newspaper offered by the fan to keep the wind off on the descent,” writes in Paul Graham.
On the descent, Gaudu is smashing it down the mountain, and has dropped Latour. Could this be a stage-winning move? He has fashioned a decent advantage.
35.5km to go: Latour is first over the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, and claims the ‘Souvenir Jacques Godet’, while Poels attacks Woods a little further down the mountain as he aims to extend his lead in the king of the mountains classification.
36km to go: Latour and Gaudu are together at the front. Latour, in old-school fashion, stuffs a newspaper down his jersey in preparation for the imminent descent. The road is lined with fans who are all baying with excitement.
36.5km to go: Wout Poels and Michael Woods attack off the front of the bunch! They are hunting KOM points. Woods is trying his best to drop Poels, but the Dutchman is stuck to his wheel like glue.
37km to go: The moment that Uran was dropped:
37km to go: David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), Ruben Guerreiro (EF Pro Cycling) and and Pierre Latour (Total Energies) are now out front on their own. Gaudu has a drink and something to eat, without easing up on the fearsome pace that is being set towards the top. It’s under two kilometres to the summit now.