The 2022 Tour de France is set for a dramatic final mountain duel between Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard in Stage 18, with the Col d’Aubisque, Col de Spandelles and summit finish at Hautacam offering the possibility of a dramatic late twist in the Pyrenees.
Vingegaardgeneral classification standings” class=”link “held on to his healthy lead in the general classification standings in Wednesday’s thrilling finish on Peyragudes, but will know that Pogacar will again throw everything he has in one final assault for the yellow jersey.
The Danish rider will also be aware, however, that if he reaches Hautacam with his advantage intact he will almost be certain of being crowned as the winner of the Tour de France under the Champs Elysees on Sunday.
Vingegaard has already passed one half of the Pyrenees challenge. Despite Pogacar winning stage 17 on the Peyragudes airstrip, the 25-year-old limited the damage to just four seconds and retains a lead of two minutes and 18 seconds in the standings.
Pogacar’s Team UAE were left with only four members standing on Tuesday after Rafal Majka became the latest to pull out of the race, but Mikkel Bjerg and Brandon McNulty set a ferocious pace throughout and will be required to summon the same energy for another big day.
Stage 18 features three brutal climbs, which kick in after the first 60km and following the intermediate sprint at Laruns. The hors catégorie Col d’Aubisque, the longest climb of this year’s Tour de France, will shatter any early breakout but the technical descent is also said to be just as challenging.
From there, the category one ascent of Col de Spandelles averages out at 8.3 per cent gradient, the steepest of the three and featuring a savage section halfway up, before