Pogačar wins in yellow for the first time
Pogačar was clearly the strongest and it does look as though, unless he has a monumental Simon Yates'esque crack on the final mountains stage on stage 18, he should be riding into Paris and taking his second Tour title.
The young megastar from Slovenia didn't look quite as strong as he did in the Alps where he gained his gigantic advantage, but he was strong enough to gain a handful of seconds on both Vingegaard and Carapaz in the final sprint to the line.
The ability of this rider is truly outstanding and something we haven't seen for a long time. Even Chris Froome in his pomp wasn't this dominant. The fact that he is just 22-years-old is not only depressing for us mere mortals, but it is scary to think what he could achieve as he still can improve.
This could be the start of a Tour dominance from the Slovenian, unless he turns his focus to the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España so he can complete the set.
It was also Pogačar's first ever win in yellow, after he took the race lead in the 2020 edition just one day before Paris, while in this race he won the stage five time trial, before taking the race lead the following day.
But if this performance is anything to go buy, he is capable of plenty more wins in the leader's yellow jersey.
Vingegaard shows what might have been
Vingegaard showed yet again that he is the closest challenger to Pogačar, albeit sitting at 5-39 down, but that could've been very different had he not waited for Primož Roglič on stage three of the race.
After Roglič crashed in the final 10km, Vingegaard and Roglič, lost 1-21 to Carapaz and just under a minute to Pogačar after the Dane waited for his race leader.
Vingegaard then showed his amazing strength on stage five in the time trial where he finished an amazing third on the day behind only Pogačar and European champion, Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ).
It did start to look like the young rider was the focus for the GC in Jumbo-Visma from stage seven onwards as Roglič continued to lose time to the other GC riders. But, with Sepp Kuss and Steven Kruijswijk struggling and Wout van Aert going in the breaks, Vingegaard had nobody with him.
Van Aert failed to take yellow away from Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) or keep it away from Pogačar as they went into the Alps, but Vingegaard continued to perform without team-mates.
Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing and this is merely saying what could have been. That being said, what has been and is still happening is a rider coming to his second Grand Tour and heading towards a very creditable second overall after what has been a superb season.
Carapaz bluffs his way to the summit, but misses out on stage
Carapaz spent the entire final climb up the Col du Portet stuck to the wheels of both Pogačar and Vingegaard refusing to come through and take a turn with his podium rivals, even after they distanced immediate podium threat, Urán.
Even with Pogačar continuing to ask him to come through and take a turn, the Ecuadorian refused and pulled all kinds of faces as he bluffed his way up the climb.
This continued all the way until about 1.8km to go where he put in an incredible acceleration that even Pogačar took a moment to get on to the wheel of. This put Vingegaard out the back, so Carapaz continued pushing with Pogačar stuck to his wheel.
Vingegaard continued to slowly work at it a pull back the 2019 Giro d'Italia winner along with Pogačar.
Pogačar then opened up his sprint, Carapaz attempted to follow but had blown all his matches in the attack as Vingegaard kicked by to see Carapaz take third on the day and another day for Ineos Grenadiers to search for what could've been.
It was a bluff that didn't pay off, as Ineos are yet to take a stage victory in this year's Tour and have been unable to gain the solitary second on Vingegaard that would put Carapaz into second place, instead losing four seconds in the final 100m.
No French joy on Bastille Day
A plethora of French riders tried to get into today's breakaway on their big national holiday of Bastille Day, with all but two riders in the eventual break of the day being French.
Riders such as Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels) and Julien Bernard (Trek-Segafredo) gave their all to get up the road but just didn't have what it took on the flat terrain that started off the day.
The last three riders standing were all French and Anthony Perez (Cofidis) looked like he could possibly be in with a chance of maybe holding on to take a huge win for him, his team and France with the home nation not taking a win since stage one when Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) swapped rainbows for yellow for a day.
But it was not to be as various teams pulled on the front of the peloton throughout the day as they searched for their own objectives. The initial pushes by Israel Start-Up Nation and Arkéa-Samsic looked to be so that their leaders, Michael Woods and Nairo Quintana could have a go at getting more mountains points, but it only helped current jersey leader, Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious) gain more.
The team of race leader, UAE Team Emirates was also keen to chase down the break as they saw it as a chance to take a victory with their leader. Which they did after Pogačar battled his way to the top of the Col du Portet, beating Vingegaard and Carapaz in the steep uphill sprint to the line.
The best French finisher on the day turned out to be David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ), who climbed to an impressive fourth place, albeit having already lost all hope of the GC at almost 16 minutes down.
Cavendish survives another time cut
Mark Cavendish made it comfortably inside the time cut for stage 17 on the top of the Col du Portet, as he stays in the race and continues to look good at having a shot at breaking the stage winners record when the roads flatten again.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step spent the start of the day making sure that nobody dangerous for the points jersey went up the road. So they were marking out Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange).
The Belgian squad didn't allow a big breakaway. Only six riders got away, leaving a maximum of nine points for the peloton at the intermediate sprint. Those nine were taken by Matthews but Cavendish took eight points followed by his lead-out man, Michael Mørkøv before Colbrelli.
This means that Cavendish goes into the final mountains stage with 287 points to Matthews 251 and Colbrelli's 201. The fight for green is far from over and with two beyond categorisation climbs coming tomorrow with the Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, there could be more danger of Cavendish missing the time cut.
However, is he does make it through he should be going all the way to Paris with green and potentially a date with destiny and breaking the record on the Champs Élysées, although, there is a potential chance for the win on stage 19 as well.
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