TDF Stage 15: Another win for Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar wins key mountain stage ahead of countryman and race leader Primoz Roglic, last years Tour winner Bernal loses big time, Adam Yates in the GC mix attacking

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TDF Stage 15: Another win for Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar does it again

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) claimed his second mountain stage victory in another 1-2 for Slovenia atop the Grand Colombier. Defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos) said goodbye to his ambitions of a double Tour win while Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) extended his overall lead to all his rivals except for his compatriot who is definitely the best young rider of this Tour de France.

Photo: © Pauline Ballet/ASO

There were 157 riders who took to the start of stage 15 in Lyon. After an extremely fast start and a crash caused by Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick Step) (he publicily apologised later) that forced Colombian national champion Sergio Higuita (EF) to abandon, eight riders managed to go clear at km 28: Kévin Ledanois (Arkéa-Samsic), Simon Geschke and Matteo Trentin (CCC Team), Jesús Herrada (Cofidis), Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates), Niccolo Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie), Michael Gogl (NTT Pro Cycling) and Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels-Vital Concept).

Trentin won the intermediate sprint at Le Bouchage, km 58, while Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) extended his lead by two points over Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), after 53.5km had been covered in the first hour of racing. The advantage of the eight leaders was four minutes with 100km to go.

With 5km to go before the top of Montée de la Selle de Fromentel (cat. 1, km 111), Trentin finished his hard work at the service of Geschke who was first to attack from the front group. Rolland, Herrada and Gogl successively came across to him while the maximum deficit of the peloton was 4’35″. Herrada crested the Montée de la Selle de Fromentel in first position before Rolland.

Gogl rode away by himself on the downhill before Frenchman Rolland came across to the Austrian 2km before the top of col de la Biche. Rolland crested in first position. After Herrada rejoined the two leaders, Gogl rode away solo on the downhill again while the peloton, led by Jumbo-Visma, had reduced their deficit to two minutes.

Gogl and Rolland started climbing Grand Colombier together but the NTT rider couldn’t hold the pace of his rival with 15km to go. Rolland continued until he got brought back by the peloton strongly led by Wout van Aert and the rest of the Jumbo-Visma team 13km before the finish. At the same time, Egan Bernal (Ineos) was dropped for good, as was his compatriot Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic).

Once Van Aert finished his demolition work with 10km to go, the front group comprised Roglic, George Bennett, Tom Dumoulin, Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Mikel Landa, Pello Bilbao, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren), Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First), Enric Mas, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Miguel Ángel López, Harold Tejada (Astana Pro Team) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).

The latter attacked with 7km to go but the ever strong Jumbo-Visma caught him 1.5km further. Dumoulin continued pulling to avoid other attacks. Roglic himself was the one to speed up in the last few hundred meters. Porte tried to go for the stage victory but it was another 1-2 for Slovenia with Pogacar taking his second Tour de France stage win in the mountains.

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Pogačar: “The race started at great speed until the breakaway went, and we had Marco Marcato there to cover it. Jumbo-Visma set a very high pace and maintained it throughout the stage, which along with the heat meant it was better not to attack. In the final, I waited for the sprint and took another beautiful victory. Some of the GC guys were dropped and this was due the effect of the pace set by Jumbo-Visma. Tomorrow we’ll have the rest day, then I’ll try to give my best again: at the moment, Roglic seems unbeatable, but anything can happen, anyone can have a bad day, as happened today to Bernal or as can happen to me or to Primoz”.

In the stage from Lyon, with the Montée de la Selle, the Col de la Biche and the final climb to the Grand Colombier along the way, the pace was very high from the start. Team Jumbo-Visma controlled the stage. Robert Gesink and Wout van Aert were able to catch up with the early breakaway at the beginning of the final climb. Due to the fast pace of George Bennett, Tom Dumoulin and Sepp Kuss, the group systematically got smaller and smaller. Roglic started the sprint early and got outsprinted by Pogacar on the finish line.

Primoz Roglic: “I came up just a little short to win”, Roglic said. “Pogacar was a bit faster. I would have liked to win to reward the guys for their work, but that didn’t work out, unfortunately. I compliment my teammates. They were very, very strong. Impressive even. The pace was really high. It was a tough, but all in all good day for us. So far everything is going according to plan, but we are not there yet. ”

Sepp Kuss (Birthday boy) “It was a great day for the team. We rode an almost perfect stage. It seemed like everyone was outperforming themselves. In the final we might have approached it slightly differently. Maybe I should have been in Tom’s wheel to start the sprint for Primoz earlier. But all in all, it was a great stage for us. We stuck to our plan by increasing the pace. As a result, some rivals lost time and the rest were riding at their limits. I am also happy that I am doing better every day. Much better than in the first week. It’s nice that the feeling I had in the Dauphiné is back.”

Tom Dumoulin rode a strong stage in support of Roglic. “Primoz felt good and indicated that he wanted to go for the stage win. As a team we were collectively very strong. That is good to see. Too bad we didn’t win the stage. Primoz started the sprint at five hundred metres or so. Perhaps he should not have done that, but that is easy to say in hindsight. In any case, I am happy that my form is going in the right direction. I felt really good today. That gives me a lot of confidence for the upcoming stages. It still looks good for Primoz and the team, but we have to be focused and stay on our guard. Especially for Pogacar.”

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Adam Yates: “I wanted to try something just before the rest day, and as I was saying I am getting better day-by-day and I didn’t want it to come down to the last kilometre or two. The previous days I’ve waited and really suffered just to hold the wheel so I went and tried to get over the steep bit and onto the flatter section to get a bit of a rest, but Jumbo-Visma weren’t happy with me trying anything so they just brought me back. I think all-in-all the sensations are good, we will have a good rest day and hopefully we will have some good stages in the Alps.”

Richie Porte: “I knew from doing Tour de l’Ain where I attacked with 2kms to go, and I didn’t really know the finish, so today my plan was always to sit in as long as I could,” explained Porte. “When it got to [600m] to go and Roglic attacked, and I had to go to the front and do my pace since I am never going to beat guys like Pogacar and Roglic on a finish like that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it was good to put time into some other GC guys.”

“It was nice to be able to sit on the wheels of Jumbo-Visma on the final climb, and I felt pretty comfortable. Jumbo-Visma had a high pace, and it was hard to do much off that pace. When Yates attacked, they never really struggled. I think they lost George Bennett, but that was it. At the end of the day, you almost have to look at them as your teammates when they’re that strong to control.”

“It was a good day for the team, and I am happy with today,” added Porte. “The big guys did a great job looking after me for the first 100kms, and Mads (Pedersen) and Jasper (Stuyven) put me in a perfect position for the first climb. And then I had Kenny (Elissonde) there with me. I am motivated for the last week. Now I am looking forward to the rest day and recover a bit and hopefully have a good final week of the Tour.”

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Miguel Angel Lopez: “I am very happy with this stage, the first day in big mountains. I think it was a good one for me as I was able to stay with the best riders and also to follow their attack in the end. The team did a great job for me during the day. We had a good plan for this stage, we did not do any mistake, and everything went quite well from start to finish. In the end I still had Harold Tejada next to me at the final climb and he provided me a great support. But also all other guys were amazing today. The climb was a tough one, but I felt well and did all I could today. So, fourth place today, that’s not bad. Still a full third week ahead and we will do it day by day, working together as a team. Tomorrow is a rest day and I want to use it to rest a bit and to recover after these demanding two weeks of hard racing”

Enric Mas: “We feel quite happy with our performance today. If you think about it, three weeks, one month ago we were in Dauphiné and we weren’t able to stay with the GC contenders even at the 10k mark, and now in the Tour we’re constantly improving our overall position. We’re now in eighth place before this rest day, which we will take advantage and enjoy as much as we can, yet we must remain focused because the final week is so, so, so hard.

“There’s two riders [Roglic and Pogacar – ed.] ahead and the rest – well, sometimes someone cracks while others keep up, sometimes it’s the other way around. The important thing for week three is not having a bad day and continue to improve bit by bit. The rivals ahead are not unbeatable, yet they’re really strong, though we’ve already seen today that everything can change by the minute.

“I continue to feel impressed by the overall level of the whole peloton. It really shows that this Tour was the only big goal for every single team heading into this part of the season, since it was held prior to Giro and Vuelta and with no big classics just before, so everyone was coming here with full power. That’s why I tackled about the pace by the whole field a week ago, even if some people misunderstood it. Let’s see what we can do next week.”

Alejandro Valverde: “I think we can extract some good conclusions from what we could do today. As you can see, we’re reaching further every day and coming closer to the main GC guys. We’d of course have liked to contest the stage win, but I was suffering from cramps into the final slopes and Enric was lacking some energy to fight with the guys at the sprint. We must feel happy about today, though, as I said.

“It remains pretty close at the front -other than Roglic and Pogacar, who seem like really hard to beat if they don’t have a bad day before Paris- and it’s still a long Tour ahead; it’s only five stages before Paris, obviously, but there’s plenty of hard mountains. Anything could happen, as you could see today. Big riders could still crack, either ourselves or any other contender.

“We continue to rely on what Enric can do and we’ll keep on pushing, stronger and stronger, for him to finish as close to the top as possible. He took an important step today. In my case, if I can aim at a stage win, it would be great, but it’s not something I’m obsessed about by any means.”

Pierre Rolland: “It was a big fight to take the breakaway, a lot of people wanted to be in front. That’s normal, with plenty of scoring points for the polka dot jersey and the day before a rest day. We never got that far ahead but I fought a real fight right up to the line. For the honor, for the Tour. We have to give our all until we are taken back.

Losing the polka dot jersey in 2013 is one of my biggest regrets. I’m afraid the doubled points at Col de la Loze will allow the favorites to win this ranking. Still, I scored 18 points today. As long as I can, while the legs are there, I will go forward. But I’ve already left a lot on the road. I am very tired and glad that the day of rest arrives tomorrow.

I still want the Tour de France. Watching the Tour de France on TV last year reminded me of the grandeur of this event. ASO put their trust in the team. So I wanted to go back there to shine. I therefore gave myself the means to 110%.

During confinement, I realized that this sport and this profession was a chance. I wanted to do different things, discover landscapes. It made me feel good for my head and body. In January, I was already talking about the Tour. I only have that in mind. I missed the public in the Col de la Biche and the Grand Colombier, but opening the Tour route remains extraordinary. ”

Egan Bernal: Last year’s Tour de France winner admitted he had been struggling since the first climb on the stage. He said: “I was not going well from the first climb to be honest, I was almost dropped there, I was suffering from the first climb. I told the team I was not good, but then I was trying to fight until the final and give my best. It’s difficult to say how I felt, the feeling was that I was empty – I had no power. When the other riders did a big acceleration, I couldn’t go too hard to follow, but then I recovered really quickly, but my body couldn’t react as normal. I’m the number one and I tried to give my best, but finally there were riders who were stronger than me.”

“Even if I start the last climb with the other GC riders I felt I would be dropped, I wanted to give my best, not just for me, but for the team and for the respect I have for the race. Theres no excuses, I tried to fuel my body in the best way possible, but I don’t know, I didn’t have the legs. The other riders have been stronger than me and we have to accept that”.

Benoît Cosnefroy: “I wanted to make the breakaway. But I failed to do so. Therefore it became a long day in the grupetto. However, I’m happy that I retained the polka dot jersey. I would have liked to play another role but my legs told me something else.”

Sam Bennett: “It was another hard day and I used a lot of energy for the intermediate sprint, but overall I felt pretty good compared to other stages. Everything was under control today. I could count again on this fantastic team, to whom I am grateful, and I’m happy that I will now start the final week of the Tour clad in the green jersey”, Bennett said after the stage.

1. Tadej Pogacar, UAE Team Emirates 04:34:13
2. Primoz Roglic, Team Jumbo – Visma @ 00
3. Richie Porte, Trek-Segafredo @ 05
4. Miguel Angel Lopez, Astana Pro Team @ 08
5. Enric Mas, Movistar Team @ 15
6. Sepp Kuss, Team Jumbo – Visma @ 15
7. Mikel Landa, Bahrain-McLaren @ 15
8. Adam Yates, Mitchelton-Scott @ 15
9. Rigoberto Uran, EF Pro Cycling @ 18
10. Alejandro Valverde, Movistar Team @ 24

12. Tom Dumoulin, Team Jumbo – Visma @ 34
14. Guillaume Martin, Cofidis @ 03:25
18. Nairo Quintana, Team Arkea-Samsic @ 03:50
21. Daniel Martin, Israel Start-Up Nation @ 05:14
25. Egan Bernal, INEOS Grenadiers @ 07:20
28. Pierre Rolland, B&B Hotels-Vital Concept @ 07:20
29. Wout Van Aert, Team Jumbo – Visma @ 07:20
49. Thibaut Pinot, Groupama-FDJ @ 20:52
84. Hugh Carthy, EF Pro Cycling @ 31:38
85. Emanuel Buchmann, Bora-Hansgrohe @ 31:38
86. Nicolas Roche, Team Sunweb @ 33:51
87. Wout Poels, Bahrain-McLaren @ 33:51
105. Mads Pedersen, Trek-Segafredo @ 37:26
120. Connor Swift, Team Arkea-Samsic @ 37:26
127. Julian Alaphilippe, Deceuninck-Quick Step @ 37:26
143. Jack Bauer, Mitchelton-Scott @ 37:26
150. Luke Rowe, INEOS Grenadiers @ 38:57
DNF Sergio Higuita EF Pro Cycling (crashed)

1. Primoz Roglic Team Jumbo – Visma 65:37:07
2. Tadej Pogacar UAE Team Emirates @ 40
3. Rigoberto Uran EF Pro Cycling @ 01:34
4. Miguel Angel Lopez Astana Pro Team @ 01:45
5. Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott @ 02:03
6. Richie Porte Trek-Segafredo @ 02:13
7. Mikel Landa Bahrain-McLaren @ 02:16
8. Enric Mas Movistar Team @ 03:15
9. Nairo Quintana Team Arkea-Samsic @ 05:08
10. Tom Dumoulin Team Jumbo – Visma @ 05:12
11. Guillaume Martin Cofidis @ 06:45
12. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team @ 06:52
13. Egan Bernal INEOS Grenadiers @ 08:25
14. Damiano Caruso Bahrain-McLaren @ 09:02
15. Warren Barguil Team Arkea-Samsic @ 32:27

Full Result Here 

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