Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) wins stage 18 of the 2022 Tour de France.

Vingegaard vanquishes Pogačar to take thrilling stage 18 victory and extend his lead

The king is dead. Long live the king!

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Jonas Vingegaard dropped Tadej Pogačar on the Hautacam and climbed to his second Tour de France stage win, tightening his grip on the yellow jersey with three stages to go.

The final mountain stage of the 2022 Tour de France had everything we could have hoped for: a massive battle for the breakaway, an epic fight for the stage, and GC riders risking it all.

With the remnants of a large breakaway still holding a slender margin, Pogačar had attacked on the penultimate climb, the Cat.1 Col de Spandelles, and, as ever, Vingegaard was straight on his wheel. Sepp Kuss remained there or thereabouts for his teammate for several kilometres, as Pogačar attacked over and over again – I lost count after six.

With Vingegaard in pursuit, Pogačar put in another dig a few hundred metres from the first-category summit, but the duo began the descent together. The white jersey was far from done, and both pushed hard on the grit-strewn roads, unknown to the Tour de France.

In quick succession, both had heart-in-mouth moments on the descent towards the foot of the final climb. First Vingegaard slipped on a left curve and stuck a foot out, but miraculously stayed up. Then, back together, Pogačar had a similar moment but slid into the ditch, scraping up his shorts and skinning his left leg on his way down.

Then came perhaps the moment of the day, a moment that would stir up intense discussion, as Vingegaard sat up to allow his rival to regain contact – a moment of extraordinary sportsmanship.

The slowing-up that followed allowed the GC group to reform before the Hautacam, and Vingegaard had Tiesj Benoot and Sepp Kuss with him, while Wout van Aert sat further up the climb with Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Dani Martínez (Ineos Grenadiers) in what remained of the breakaway.

The leading trio was caught just inside the last six kilometres and Van Aert took over from Kuss for one last effort for his leader. And it was the Belgian’s pace that ultimately dropped Pogačar, leaving Vingegaard to soar up the final 4.5 kilometres for a historic stage victory, the Dane’s second at this Tour and his first in the yellow jersey.

Pogačar came home second and over a minute down, seeing his GC deficit drop to 3:26, and Van Aert hung on for third.

Behind them in the standings, Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) – who tried an attack on the penultimate climb – is still on the podium in third with a round eight-minute gap, while the time difference between first and 10th is now over 20 minutes.

By winning the stage on the HC Hautacam, Vingegaard also takes over the mountains classification from Simon Geschke, whose Cofidis teammates emptied themselves early on in an effort to launch the German up the road to hunt for KOM points, but to no avail.

Tour de France (2.UWT) Lourdes → Hautacam

VINGEGAARD Jonas
1
VINGEGAARD Jonas Jumbo-Visma
2
POGAČAR Tadej UAE Team Emirates
3
VAN AERT Wout Jumbo-Visma
4
THOMAS Geraint INEOS Grenadiers
5
GAUDU David Groupama - FDJ
6
LUTSENKO Alexey Astana Qazaqstan Team
7
MARTÍNEZ Daniel Felipe INEOS Grenadiers
8
KUSS Sepp Jumbo-Visma
9
VLASOV Aleksandr BORA - hansgrohe
10
PINOT Thibaut Groupama - FDJ

VINGEGAARD Jonas

VAN AERT Wout

VINGEGAARD Jonas

POGAČAR Tadej

INEOS Grenadiers

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