Tour de France 2021: Stage 17 – Pogacar unleashes power and strength on Col du Portet

Anyone who had any doubt in the strength of Tadej Pogacar only had to watch today’s Stage 17 to realise that, bar a complete collapse, the peloton’s wunderkind is going to ride into Paris on Sunday to take his second Tour de France in a row. In a stunning show of power – both by his UAE team and then by Pogacar on the final 10km of the stage – the stage ended with the widely predicted win for the reigning champion but the manner of the win was something quite spectacular. As for second and third podium positions, they seem relatively safe from the bunch for Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) respectively, with the closest rival, EF’s Rigoberto Uran, more than a minute and a half down from them in GC. But with only 4 seconds between the two, we can expect some Jumbo-Ineos fireworks on the last mountain stage tomorrow.

Pog, Jonas and Billy

It felt like Pogacar’s stage to win today, right from the start. And he delivered. His team rode on the front up and down the climbs, keeping the break out front under control and reachable. On the insane gradients of the Col du Portet, Rafal Majka rode with a conviction we haven’t seen in a long time, slowly but surely winnowing the group, until Pogacar released him from his Herculean task halfway up the climb and put in a stinging attack. Jonas Vingegaard was straight on his wheel, while Richard Carapaz‘s teammate Jonathan Castroviejo was able to bring him to the front two.

And they went off together, never to be troubled by anyone else for the rest of the climb. But Vingegaard and Pogacar were troubled by the fact that, although they worked together to put time into everyone else, Carapaz stayed firmly on the back, grimacing and gurning and shaking his head when either of them asked him to take a turn at the front.

Was Billy on the rivet or was he having a laugh? The latter, as the Ineos rider attacked with 1.5km to go, distancing Vingegaard but not Pogacar. With the yellow jersey on his wheel, Carapaz couldn’t shake him. Nor could he keep Vingegaard from bridging back up to the duo in the last 200m. And, let’s face it, instant karma’s gonna get ya, and it got Carapaz as first Pogacar sprinted away from him with 50m to go, followed by Vingegaard – accelerations that Carapaz had no answer to. All that gamesmanship and he still came in third.

And here’s your highlights reel


Jonas and the Jumbo Bees

What will happen tomorrow in the mountains? Vingegaard has certainly looked the strongest, other than Pogacar, and with the final day in the mountains, I’m sure his remaining teammates will be working hard to try to extend his lead over Carapaz (although he’ll almost certainly gain time on Carapaz in the time trial). Of course, Ineos will be riding hard to try to get rid of Vingegaard so that Billy steps up to second, but I wonder if today’s antics by the Ineos rider will bring about an informal pact between Jumbo and UAE. And if Movistar got involved … well …

What can only be described as batshit crazy talk from Bradley Wiggins after the stage. Did he actually SEE the stage we saw? If Pog was going to gift the stage to anyone, it would have been with the guy who rode with him. And why would he need Ineos as an ally, considering they’ve already been doing so much work out front that benefits him anyway.

And the Academy Award goes to …

Or endeared, even

Let’s talk team …

“UAE Emirates are not a strong team.” “They can’t control the peloton.” There has certainly been some truth in those sentences that have been thrown around all Tour, but it seems that, today, the domestiques of UAE brought something extra to the stage, to help their leader take his first Tour de France stage in yellow.

Granted, Pogacar has a massive buffer of over 5min to second-placed Vingegaard, but let’s consider that throughout this entire Tour, which has been marred with crashes and cursed with bad luck for so many riders and teams, those have had little effect on UAE or Pogacar. They might not have ridden on the front like Ineos or last year’s Jumbo to control the race every day, but with Ineos and Movistar willing to do a lot of work for little to no reward, they didn’t have to.

These free rides on a lot of the stages also meant that they still had all of their riders today so when they took to the front at the start of the Peyresourde, the first of the three classified climbs at the end of the stage, they had enough guys to control the break throughout. Then once Majka got on the front on the Col du Portet, no one could attack even if they wanted to. So actually, on paper they aren’t the strongest, but hot damn they have played a blinder this Tour. Being there when it was a must, but skillfully making other teams work on the stages that didn’t mean anything to them.

The last word

The Last Word


Stage 17 Top 5

1 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 5:03:31

2 Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:03

3 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +0:04

4 David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +1:19

5 Ben O’Connor (Ag2r Citroen) +1:26

General Classification Top 10

1 Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 71:26:27

2 Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:39

3 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +5:43

4 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) +7.17

5 Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën Team) +7.34

6 Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) +8:06

7 Enric Mas (Movistar Team) +9:48

8 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech) +10:04

9 Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +11:51

10 Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) +12:53

All the jerseys

Leaders jersey: Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates)

Points jersey: Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step)

KOM jersey: Wout Poels (Israel Start-up Nation)

Best young rider jersey : Tadej Pogacar (Bahrain Victorious)

Most combative rider : Anthony Perez (Cofidis)

For full stage review, go to cyclingnews

Official Tour de France website is here

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