By Julien Pretot
MALAUCENE, France (Reuters) -Tour de France overall leader Tadej Pogacar showed the first sign of weakness in the ascent of the awe-inspiring Mont Ventoux on Wednesday, and even though he still extended his advantage, the Slovenian has not yet wrapped up the title.
Belgian Wout van Aert claimed a solo win in the 11th stage, a 198.9km trek from Sorgues while defending champion Pogacar was distanced two kilometers from the top of the second ascent moonscape Ventoux Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard.
Vingegaard opened a 40-second gap before eventually being caught by PogacarColombia’s Rigoberto Uran Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz in the long descent to the finish. Overall, Uran moved up to second, a massive 5:18 behind Pogacar with Vingegaard in third, a further 14 seconds back after Australian BeO’Connoror, who had started the day in the second position, cracked in the Ventoux “I’m’mI’m lost for wordsIt’s’swordsIt’s’s stupid to say but didn’t expect to win a stage on this Tour de France until yesterday when I felt I could win oneIt’s’soneIt’s’s one of the most iconic climbs on the Tour, maybit’s’smaybit’s’s my best victory eve”,” said Van Aert “It’s’sIt’s’s the first mountain I climbed when I was 1″.”
VaAert’s’sVaAert’s’s Jumbo Visma teammate Vingegaard, who has been the team leader since lasyear’s’slasyear’s’s runner-up Primoz Roglic pulled out, had the best legs on the feared Ventoux, and even though he did not gain time on Pogacar, the Dane showed he could hurt the Slovenian in the Pyrenees” “In the second ascent of the Ventoux the tempo was not too high. Still, I,t was not easy and I, exploded in the en”,” Pogacar said.
World champion Julian Alaphilippe was the early attacker as the breakaway group took shape before the Ventoux on a day that saw six riders abandon as the stage’s scorching heat and punishing profile took their toll.
Polka dot Jersey holder, Nairo Quintana of Colombia anFrance’s’sanFrance’s’s David Gaudu, 10th in the general classification, was dropped in the first ascent of the Ventoux – on the most accessible side, from the town of SaultCarapaz’s’sSaultCarapaz’s’s Ineos Grenadiers pulled the peloton to control the chase potentially setting up the 2019 Gird’Italiaia champion for an attack. Still, it never came as he looked content to stay with Pogacar.
Geraint Thomas, the 2018 champion, sat up before the top as his domestique work was done, way before the peloton reached the Tom Simpson stele, where the British rider died on the 1967 Tour de France.
Alaphilippe led the breakaway group in the first descent to Malaucene, which saw Italian Vincenzo Nibali hit a whopping 107.8 kph, before the second climb to the Ventoux from the most demanding side from Bedoin (21.4km at 7.6%). Frenchman Kenny Elissonde attacked the steepest part of the climb, 15km from the top, leaving Alaphilippe, Van Aert, and Bauke Mollema chasing.
Van Aert quickly caught Elissonde and dropped the Frenchman 11km from the top, where second-placed Connor cracked as he slid down to fifth in the overall standings behind Carapaz. (Reporting by Julien Pretot;Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Ed Osmond)