Wow, what a stage! In my 30-odd years covering the Tour de France, I can’t remember such a dramatic stage in the fight for the yellow jersey. Until today Tadej Pogačar seemed simply unbeatable. As my colleague Ed Pickering mentioned in his recent feature: "you are unbeatable until you are beaten."
As Ed also said, the only way to beat the yellow jersey was for a team to risk everything, to be willing to lose it all, to win. And that is just what happened.
I was well up the road when I heard the race radio announcing that Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič had gone on the attack already on the Col de la Télégraphe, the first major climb of this already brutal stage from Albertville to the summit of the Col de Granon. Not since Marco Pantani attacked Jan Ullrich on the Col du Galibier in the 1998 Tour could I remember a major challenger going on the attack so early.
Obviously the situation was different as this was a team going on the attack and not just a single rider, but still the move was spectacular. Over the Télégraphe, down into Valloire and up the opening kilometres of the Galibier, Roglič and Vingegaard traded punches while Pogačar defended his yellow jersey and even countered.
Finally nearing the summit of the Galibier, Roglič faded. The designated team Jumbo-Visma leader at the start of the Tour knew his own chances were over. But the team had succeeded in isolating Pogačar. The situation only got worse for Pogačar as they raced down the valley towards Briançon as Roglič, Sepp Kuss, Steven Kruijswijk caught back to the lead group.
By numbers only, Pogačar was in trouble.
At the foot of the Granon, Roglič returned to the front, if only for a minute. His day and his Tour was done.
The rest, you have read many times over by now as Vingegaard went on the attack and Pogačar folded.
For much of the final climb, I focused on capturing the action. But when Roglič crossed the line with his teammate Kuss, the two lines, the two couldn’t have been happier.
The Tour after all, is an individual sport contested by teams. No individual is stronger than their team! As Roglič and Kuss crossed the line, they couldn’t have been happier. Roglič had clearly lost the Tour, but his teammate may well have won the Tour.
Camera : Nikon D5
Lens : Nikon 70mm-200mm (set at 135mm)
Shutter speed : 1/1600th
Aperture : F 5