Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) did his best to let his rivals do most of the work in the lead group on the way up the Col du Portet of Wednesday’s stage 17 of the Tour de France, but Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) both said afterwards that they weren’t fooled into thinking the former Giro d’Italia winner was flagging on the day’s final climb.
At one point, Pogačar and Vingegaard shared a few words at the front of the group. Then, after hanging at the back of the trio for a several kilometers, Carapaz would put in a stinging attack inside the last 2 km. The move initially dropped Vingegaard, but he would ultimately make his way back towards the front. Pogačar took the stage win with Vingegaard nabbing second and Carapaz settling for third.
After the stage, Pogačar revealed what he and Vingegaard had talked about before Carapaz’s attack.
“He said to me he thought Carapaz was bluffing, and I knew it also,” Pogačar said of his conversation with Vingegaard. “It was nothing unusual. This is the tactic in cycling, and then he tried to attack. I really had to drive to catch him.”
Vingegaard shared a similar view in a post-race interview of his own.
“Even when we were taking it easy he was looking like he was suffering, so I knew he was going to attack,” Vingegaard said.
On the road, Pogačar did not seem thrilled with Carapaz’s refusal to work as the three leaders distanced other GC hopefuls like Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), but in the end, he took the win – his first ever in the yellow jersey – and several seconds anyway, and Vingegaard gained a few seconds on Carapaz too.
“The three of us went clear but only me and Jonas worked together,” Pogačar said. “I tried a couple of times to go clear. More time is better, but they were really good today. In the end, I just sprinted the last 50 meters, and that was enough.”