After UAE Team Emirates Tadej Pogačar’s dominance on the previous weekend’s alpine stages many cycling fans lamented that the race had been already won. With a significant lead over his rivals, Pogačar is definitely in the driver’s seat, but as we saw on the upper slopes of Mont Ventoux in stage 11, he is not invincible. Although UAE Team Emirates has ridden fairly well to protect their team leader, he was left will only Rafał Majka high on Ventoux, then isolated. Pogačar looked to be in control following Team Jumbo-Visma’s plan B Jonas Vingegaard when he attacked, however Tadej couldn’t hold Vingegaard’s wheel 1500 meters from the top of the climb. This small sign of vulnerability will leave a glimmer of hope for the yellow jersey wearer’s rivals in the Pyrenees stages to come.
As It seems in stage 11 and 12, to lose a rider that day would produce and extra effort by the teammates still in the race. After losing Tony Martin due to a crash early on the double Mont Ventoux stage, Team Jumbo-Visma’s wonder Wout van Aert took the win on a brilliant ride out of the break. Even his victory celebration was outstanding! Then on stage 12, Bora hansgrohe lost their marquee rider Peter Sagan as a non starter before the stage and the ensuing result was their own Nils Politt posting up in celebration after taking a solo win out of the break. Even earlier in the Tour there were the double wins by Bahrain Victorious’ Matej Mohorič (stage 7) and Dylan Teuns (stage 8) after their team leader Jack Haig exited the race due to crash injuries.
There is much to be ridden for this final week and a half of the Tour de France. Perhaps Tadej Pogačar’s yellow jersey defense will be the least challenged or then again not, but for sure the final podium spots will be highly contested. The polka dot climber’s jersey, and green sprinter’s jersey all far from being secured as well. The chase for Deceuninck Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish not only to win the green jersey, but to equal and surpass the all time stage win record promises to be entertaining for certain. The best three weeks of racing has fortunately a long way to go until Paris.