There is another man in a different fight against Pogačar and Vingegaard

Simon Geschke's plan is to seal the Tour de France polka dot jersey before Hautacam when the true Tour kings will take over.

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Since the Tour de France left Switzerland before the first rest day in Morzine, Simon Geschke (Cofidis) has been wearing the polka dot jersey. Tomorrow, he will face the stiffest test of whether he will be wearing it in Paris.

With the general classification fight between Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar finely poised, these two final big days in the Pyrenees were always going to see a fight for yellow on the summit finish climbs.

At the start of stage 17 Geschke was on 58 points, a 19-point lead over second-place Louis Meintjes (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) in the KOM classification. As the Col d’Aspin approached, Geschke was on the attack alongside Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), who also has designs on the polka dots. The German picked up six points but that was all he would get for the day.

After the category-two climb where fewer points were on offer, the GC riders took over for the final two category-one ascents. By the end of the day Jonas Vingegaard, who was closer before the stage to Geschke in the KOM competition, trails the current leader by just 12 points. Pogačar lurks a further six points behind.

The final day of big mountain points (three fourth-category climbs remain after tomorrow’s stage 18) will see the peloton tackle the hors-category Col d’Aubisque before the first-category Col de Spandelles and then the HC-summit finish up Hautacam.

“I think the plan is to get some points [early] because we know that Pogačar and Vingegaard are going to play to win the Tour de France,” Cofidis team manager Cédric Vasseur told CyclingTips. “So like today they’ll probably play for the stage too. Hautacam will give 20 points because it’s HC so of course our plan is to get some points before the final.”

If Geschke can score 9 points over either of the first two climbs without Vingegaard or Pogačar picking up any points, the jersey will be his. Ciccone is 23 points back, so would need to sweep up a lot of points while the German cracked to put himself in a position to withstand the charge of the top two on GC.

Pierre-Luc Périchon laid it all on the line for Geschke on the second of three Pyrenean stages.

“I think the interest of Jumbo is also to let a breakaway go,” Vasseur explained, giving hope that Pogačar and Vingegaard won’t be picking up points early. “We knew this morning that with such a very short stage it would be difficult to go in the breakaway, but tomorrow we are closer to 150 km so we hope Simon still has power to go in the breakaway and maybe get some good points on l’Aubisque, why not in the second too because the Hautacam will be for the king.”

Geschke is ready for the fight and the chance to be the first German to claim the polka dot jersey of the Tour de France.

“He’s totally motivated,” Vasseur said. “He wants to give everything for this jersey because a German has never won this jersey. This is now a major focus to help him, like Pierre-Luc Périchon did today. We put all the team towards helping him but we saw today it’s a really hard fight. We saw [Giulio] Ciccone was going for it with Trek and we know it’s the Tour de France so this jersey has a high price and it’s a lot of sweat and power.

“But we are still confident because we still have the jersey tonight so let’s see how Simon will recover. He finished quietly today, he let go when he saw he couldn’t take anymore points and he finished really easy. I think he knows the last battle of the Tour is tomorrow.”

While Vingegaard hopes to break Pogačar’s two-year hold over the yellow jersey, Geschke hopes to end his streak of winning the white one with red dots.

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