Tadej Pogacar ended any further debate over his Tour de France dominance with another summit victory in the final mountain stage of the Tour, at Luz Ardiden, in the French Pyrenees, 24 hours after winning the Col du Portet.
As during stage 17, on the dizzying heights of Portet, the outcome was played out between the trio vying for the Parisian podium – Pogacar of the UAE Emirates team, the leader of the Ineos Grenadiers, Richard Carapaz, and Jonas Vingegaard from Jumbo-Visma. But like at the Col du Portet, Pogacar was too hot for his rivals to pull through and he accelerated again flawlessly to win his second summit finish and third stage of the race.
The Grenadiers, who blew hot and cold throughout this race, were this time very united and at the forefront on the last two climbs of the Tour, the Col du Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, reviving the memories of Team Sky train that took Chris Froome to four Tour wins. Once again, however, that wasn’t enough to stop the 22-year-old Slovenian.
With podium contender Rigoberto Urán, who was riding for EF Education-Nippo, excluded from the elite group of leaders, it was left to Pogacar, Vingegaard and Carapaz to resume their duel from the previous afternoon. Once again, Pogacar’s climb speeds were too high and acceleration from the defending champion, with just over 3km to go, reduced the leading group to just five riders.
This time, however, Vingegaard had Andorran stage winner Sepp Kuss by his side and the Coloradan were happy to take the lead in the final 1,500m mountain race.
Yet even that was not enough to derail voracious Pogacar, who followed a late move from Spaniard Enric Mas (WorldTeam Movistar), before sprinting flawlessly to another categorical stage victory.