Grand Colombier: Tadej Pogacar beat fellow Slovenian and overall leader Primoz Roglic to win the 15th stage of the Tour de France on Sunday as defending champion Egan Bernal cracked on the slopes of the Grand Colombier.
The Ineos Grenadiers leader was dropped 13 kilometres from the summit of the Colombier, an unforgiving 17.4-kilometre ascent, losing seven minutes and 20 seconds on the line.
Tadej Pogacar beats Primoz Roglic to the top of the Grand Colombier on Sunday.Credit:AP
Two-time runner-up and fellow Colombian Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) also lost contact with the lead group led by Roglic's Jumbo-Visma teammates, who set a frantic tempo from the bottom of the climb.
Only Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) appears a threat to Roglic's chances in Paris now, outsprinting the yellow jersey for the victory at the end of the punishing 174.5-kilometre stage through the Jura mountains.
"Tadej is very strong – I have to say he has great legs. My teammates did a great job today as I really wanted to win, but I have to admit Tadej was slightly stronger," said Roglic, who still had the support of Tom Dumoulin and Sepp Kuss with two kilometres to go.
Jumbo-Visma and Primoz Roglic bossing the peloton on Sunday.Credit:AP
Australian Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) took third place, at 35 enjoying a sweet resurgence on the Tour, but he does not appear to be in the same league as Roglic and Pogacar.
"Today was a tough day, Jumbo-Visma controlled the race and set super high temp. A lot of riders were dropped and I wanted to focus on the finale," said the 21-year-old Pogacar.
Roglic leads Pogacar by 40 seconds and Colombian Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling) by 1min 34secs.
Bernal, who was third overall 59 seconds off the pace before the start in Lyon, dropped out of the top 10, meaning the old Sky train will not win the Tour for the first time since Chris Froome crashed out in 2014. Prior to 2014, they had won all the other editions since Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the race in 2012.
Bernal had been looking under par in the first part of the race and Sunday's stage confirmed that impression as the 23-year-old zig-zagged up the road, sweat dripping from his face, while Jumbo-Visma's Wout van Aert stretched the shrinking peloton.
"They were setting a really high pace. Nobody stood a chance," said Pogacar.
There was no coming back for the Colombian, who was paced up to the line by teammate Michal Kwiatkowski.
Adam Yates, riding for the Australian Mitchelton-Scott team, was the only rider to attack, seven kilometres from the summit, but the Briton's effort was short-lived as he was effortlessly reined in by Jumbo-Visma.
In the final 300 metres, Porte launched the sprint, but Roglic and Pogacar followed and the younger Slovenian prevailed to win his second stage on his Tour debut.
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