Grand Colombier (France) (AFP)
Slovenia's grip on the Tour de France: Tadej Pogacar beat Primoz Roglic in a sprint on Sunday at the top of the Grand Colombier, where the outgoing winner, the Colombian Egan Bernal, lost more than 7 minutes in the 15th stage.
If the gap has narrowed between Roglic and Pogacar in the standings, 40 seconds now, it has increased considerably with their opponents.
The first of them, the Colombian Rigoberto Uran, is more than a minute and a half away, before crossing the Alps in the third and final week of the race.
A major fact of this stage, Bernal's delay symbolizes the failure of the Ineos team, formerly Sky, its first since 2014 in the Tour de France, where it has won seven of the last eight editions.
Concentrated on a single leader, unlike last year when it had achieved the double (Bernal 1st, Geraint Thomas 2nd), the British formation was shattered.
Its young leader, 23, let go far from the finish, 13 kilometers from the top, while the group of favorites still numbered some 20 riders.
- Jumbo in steamroller mode -
By comparison, the Jumbo formation imposed its mode of steamroller until the last hectometers.
With the Belgian Wout Van Aert, who climbed to the rhythm of Bernal after having dictated a stifling pace for a long time, then the Dutchman Tom Dumoulin until after the red flame symbolizing the entry into the last kilometer.
In the sprint, Roglic was beaten by Pogacar who had already beaten him seven days earlier, in Laruns, on the second day in the Pyrenees.
"I really wanted to win the stage, Tadej was a little stronger," said Roglic before quickly consoling himself: "It's a good day".
The Slovenian, winner of the last Vuelta, highlighted the work of his Jumbo team, omnipresent throughout this 174.5 kilometer stage: "You need a great team to win, cycling is not an individual sport."
“The Jumbo set the pace for all three climbs,” confirmed Pogacar, who waited for the sprint on the steep slope to 1,501 meters above sea level.
The young Slovenian, who discovered the Tour at 21, scored his second success and openly eyed the yellow jersey: "I'll try if the chance presents itself. I hope the best comes in week three."
For Bernal but also for the historic leader of Colombian cycling, Nairo Quintana, the day is to be forgotten.
- The decline of Quintana -
Two days after his fall on the Puy Mary road at the same time as Romain Bardet, Quintana faltered in the Grand Colombier, even before Bernal.
He certainly lost less time (3 min 50 sec) on the line but probably left his chances for the podium on the Jura mountain, almost devoid of spectators due to a prefectural decree linked to the health situation.
Pierre Rolland, survivor of a breakaway launched at the start of the stage, resisted up to 13 kilometers from the finish, in the site of the Ain department overlooking the Rhône.
The Frenchman, very visible for several days, saw the yellow and black train of Roglic's team come back on him, which was still surrounded by four teammates at this decisive moment of the race.
The key moment of Bernal's retreat, who appeared suffocated by the rhythm, to the point of sticking out his tongue in the wake of his Polish Saint Bernard, Michal Kwiatkowski.
Should we conclude that the suspense is already killed?
Roglic, questioned after the arrival, answered without nuance on the eve of the second day of rest in Isère: "I would like, but it is not the case. Our position is very good but the race is far from 'be finished. "
© 2020 AFP