Tadej Pogačar continued to whittle away at Primož Roglič’s overall lead at the Tour de France, outsprinting the yellow jersey on the Grand Colombier to cross the line first on stage 15.
The UAE Team Emirates rider reduced his deficit to his compatriot thanks to the stage 15 win and 10 bonus seconds he took on the line, compared to Rogličs six, now leaving him 40 seconds behind heading into the second rest day.
Pogačar said it wouldn’t have been wise to attack as Jumbo-Visma drove a hard pace up the final climb of the day, instead waiting for the sprint, attacking his GC rivals within the final kilometre.
“Jumbo-Visma set the pace really high and it made it really difficult, from my point of view it was not sensible to attack.” Pogačar said after the stage. “In the end I was waiting for the sprint and I’m happy to win again.”
The battle for the yellow jersey now seems reduced to the two Slovenians, after Egan Bernal cracked and lost over seven minutes. Pogačar says he expected more from Ineos, but that nobody really stood a chance with the pace Jumbo-Visma were setting.
“I think everyone expected a little bit more from [Ineos],” Pogačar admitted. “But Jumbo-Visma set the pace high from the beginning with the three really hard climbs, nobody stood a chance.”
As for the rider standing between him and the yellow jersey, Pogačar knows he has tough opposition.
“For the moment, [Roglič] seems unstoppable, but today Bernal cracked, maybe one day I will crack or Roglič will, you never know in a three-week stage race, especially the Tour. There are always opportunities.”
With a number of hard days in the Alps still to come, the race will eventually boil down to a time trial up Les Planches des Belles Filles. Roglič has said he would happily take his current 40-second buffer into the race against the clock, while Pogačar also seems ready to have a crack at it.
“I did the recon and I was pretty happy trying the course,” Pogačar said. “Now it will be a little bit different after three weeks of racing but I like the course, there’s a chance for a bike change, I’m really looking forward to it.”