HAUTACAM, France (AP) — Barring a crash, Jonas Vingegaard is likely to be wearing the yellow jersey when the Tour de France ends in Paris on Sunday.
Vingegaard responded to a series of attacks from defending champion Tadej Pogacar on Thursday and ultimately dropped his main rival in the last big mountain stage of this year’s race to increase his overall lead to three minutes, 26 seconds.
With only one big test left — a 41-kilometer (25.5-mile) time trial scheduled for Saturday — the Jumbo-Visma leader from Denmark seems all but guaranteed to win his maiden Tour title after reaching the Hautacam resort on his own.
“It’s incredible. I told my girlfriend and daughter this morning that I wanted to win the stage for them. I’m happy and proud that I won for them,” Vingegaard said. “I need to stay focused and keep taking it day by day. I don’t want to talk about winning the Tour yet. Let’s talk about it in two days.”
Pogacar, the two-time defending champion, took all the risks and crashed on a downhill as he relentlessly tried to isolate Vingegaard. Back on his bike, Pogacar cracked about four kilometers from the finish in the final ascent, with his hopes of winning a third consecutive title all but dashed.
“I went all in for the yellow,” Pogacar said. “I did not give up, I pushed my limits and I’m proud of today. Today the best man won.”
Vingegaard then went solo to claim a second stage win following his success at the Col du Granon last week in the Alps on the day he took control of the race. Pogacar crossed the finish line more than one minute behind Vingegaard.
The final big mountain stage of this year’s race got off a lively start with