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Wout Poels wins stage 15

Wout Poels wins stage 15

DrIt is not uncommon in the rich history of this race for two exceptional Tour de France drivers to have a duel of their own. But the fact that two pros take every opportunity that arises over the course of two weeks of racing to snap up a few bike lengths and a few seconds ahead of the other on hard work is certainly a good thing.

In 1989, Greg Lemond and Laurent Fignon led it to the top of Tour history, separated by just eight seconds in Paris. Jonas Vinggaard and Tadezh Pogacar are also heading towards a decision that could be based on a few bike lengths and seconds. After a grueling double shift on an alpine weekend, the two are only ten seconds apart. Last year’s Danish winner kept the yellow jersey ahead of the 2020 and 2021 Slovenian Tour winner.

The spectators cause a mass downfall

On the 179km stage to Mont Blanc’s Saint-Gervais, the two took it easy for the long haul, flanked by the helpers of their powerhouse teams Jumbo-Visma and UAE. They left the battle for the day’s victory to the contestants, who had many skirmishes in the large breakaway group. Wout Pouels (Bahrain-Victorious) eventually won stage 15 as a soloist ahead of Belgian star Wout van Aert. Behind, the Pogacar team started a race within the race – and put Vingegaard under pressure by cutting him off from all of his team mates on the final climb of five.

Pogacar’s gentlemanly assistant Simon Yates has stretched himself out in front of the favourite, Vingegaard can no longer count on his best assistant in the mountains, Sepp Kuss. The American had collided with a careless spectator 128 kilometers before the finish line, fell and caused a mass crash in the peloton. But his Danish boss again put up a great fight, just like the day before in a spectacular exchange of blows on the Col de Joux Plane.

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Against the Emirati majority in the final stage and against a serious push from Pogacar, which Vingegaars countered coolly and sat down. As if another shot was needed of the seemingly entrenched stalemate at the highest level, the duelists delivered, rolling side by side, side by side, across the finish line at Saint-Gervais. Two exceptional drivers, who couldn’t be more different in their driving style and public image, have deferred their duel to the next chapter: After the rest day, the battle goes on for seconds on Tuesday – with the first and only time trial for this round. It’s very possible that Pogacar and Vingegaard will push each other back in a big way, but they won’t get away with it.