Tadej Pogacar has put himself firmly in the driving seat to win his second successive Tour de France title after winning the 18th stage to further extend his lead.
Thursday saw the final mountain stage of this year’s race which included two iconic climbs; the Col du Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden. The Slovenian put out an exceptional ride to win back-to-back stages in the Pyrenees, which also earned him the polka-dot jersey, which goes to the rider who scores the most mountain points in the race.
It was a dominating display for the Team UAE Emirates star and he made the decisive move with just 1km remaining to strengthen his claim on another yellow jersey. His incredible late push allowed him to pull clear of his distant GC contenders as he secured his second stage victory in as many days.
He faced a challenge in Enric Mas, who tried to burst away for the Movistar team in the final 700m push, but Pogacar covered the move and sprinted away up the final slope to claim the glory – it really did not look in doubt.
It was double points at the top of Luz Ardiden in the KOM competition, so Pogacar assumed the lead in the polka-dot race. The 22-year-old just needs to stay upright now for the final three stages and he will be crowned Tour de France champion for the second year in a row.
Speaking after his victory at the 18th stage, Pogacar said, “It’s unbelievable after yesterday, today, I don’t know - I felt good and I’m really happy with the win, it’s crazy. It’s a game for me, of course, it’s been a game since I started [cycling] and I’m enjoying playing it.
“[There’s] maybe a 50 per cent chance [of winning the Tour]. It’s still three days, but it looks good.
When asked if he should be worried about the time trial still to come Pogacar almost laughed, before adding, "Why should I be worried? For the time trial? We will see.
"It is a discipline where I always want to do my best. Sometimes you can have a really bad day in the time trial but it will be a new experience for me and I can't wait. You can lose six minutes in a time trial, it's happened before, but I'm pretty confident."