Just four days back, Tadej Pogacar seemed stuck on the road when Jonas Vingegaard, his main competitor, outpaced him in the Pyrenees. But things have shifted since then. Pogacar has nearly closed the gap with the Tour de France’s overall leader as of Sunday.
The 24-year-old cyclist launched an attack on the toughest section of the 13.3km climb to the Puy de Dome. This climb is well-known in the Tour’s history. Pogacar managed to outdo the Danish rider, reducing Vingegaard’s lead to just 17 seconds right before the first day off.
This wasn’t the first time Pogacar had made a comeback. After his tough time on the Col de Marie Blanque, he had already overtaken Vingegaard on the climb to Cauterets-Cambasque on Thursday.
The ninth stage of the race, a 182.5km stretch, was won by Michael Woods from Canada. He finished the day’s race more than eight minutes ahead of the others. He started the Puy de Dome 2 minutes behind Matteo Jorgenson at the front of the race but doggedly pulled back the gap with a well-paced effort that saw the Canadian overtake the American in the final 400 metres of the climb.
Despite his concerns about the hot weather, Pogacar seemed to handle the 32-degree Celsius heat on the slopes of the Puy de Dome with ease. When he saw the peak, Pogacar made a move from a small group of top cyclists. Initially, only Vingegaard could keep up before he lost speed and was left behind.
The final four kilometres of the race were quiet, with no fans or team cars allowed, creating an unusual silence. Pogacar would have liked to have fans cheering him on. Pogacar had a brief moment of doubt, but his physical condition assured him that Sunday was his day.
The first day off in the Tour de France will be on Monday in Clermont Ferrand.
“It’s not a victory but a small victory. It was a relaxed day until the last climb. I could immediately feel that my legs were good but I kept it for the last 1.5km just in case. When I attacked I could see his shadow and could see he was sprinting full gas so I pushed more and more until I dropped him and continued my effort until the finish line. It would have been good to have spectators but it was still super, super nice. I was a bit scared because the guys (sports directors) were telling me it’s so hard, it’s so steep, but actually it did not seem too steep, we were flying uphill today.”Tadej Pogačar
2023 Tour de France Stage 9 result
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