COL DU GRANON, France (AP)Jonas Vingegaard won the first big mountain stage of the Tour de France to claim the yellow jersey from two-time defending champion Tadej Pogacar, who cracked in the final ascent on Wednesday.
Vingegaard, who rides for the Jumbo-Visma team, moved away from Pogacar in the brutal climb to the top of the Col du Granon to enjoy a winning finish to an epic day in the Alps. The 11th stage featured two other monster climbs, the daunting Col du Telegraphe and Col du Galibier.
It was Vingegaard’s first stage win at cycling’s biggest race. The Danish rider was runner-up last year in the general classification behind Pogacar.
With his teammate Primoz Roglic, Vingegaard relentlessly attacked Pogacar in the thin air. But every time they tried to isolate the leader from the UAE-Emirates team on the Galibier – the highest point of this year’s route at 2,642 meters above sea level – the Slovenian rider responded calmly.
Pogacar even smiled at TV cameras at the foot of the punishing final climb. Guided by teammate Rafal Majka, Pogacar rode at the front but the Jumbo-Visma riders’ attrition work finally paid off.
When Vingegaard attacked again with 5 kilometers to go, Pogacar just couldn’t respond and got dropped. With his yellow jersey wide open, the battered champion struggled until the end and lost more than three minutes to his rival.
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