Tadej Pogačar again did a great climbing performance in the first mountain stage that finished on La Super Planche des Belles Filles, breaking Geraint Thomas’ 2019 record by 19 seconds. However the Slovenian faced stiff competition from Jonas Vingegaard, who seems is capable of challenging the mighty Pogačar this year.
La Super Planche des Belles Filles was the first big mountain top finish in the 2022 Tour. Tadej Pogačar, after winning the previous stage on Longwy, which was suited more for riders like Michael Matthews, was a huge favourite to win. The UAE Team Emirates riders controlled the gap to the breakaway for the whole stage, but it was not an easy task as they spent the whole team for it with Bora-Hansgrohe having two men in the breakaway pulling hard, Schachmann and Kämna.
The final climb was with irregular gradients, with 6% and 10%+ sections. The final part was the steepest one, which included a gravel section and maximum gradients of over 20%+. The UAE Team Emirates with Brandon McNulty, George Bennett and Rafal Majka paced the whole climb until the last kilometre, with INEOS and Jumbo-Visma sitting in the wheels.
The set pace by McNulty, Bennett and Majka was not super high as Lennard Kämna, who was in the breakaway, lost only 45 seconds from 7 to 1.3 km to go. Kämna had a 45-second lead with 1.3 km to go, but after Majka finished his pull and Pogačar had no domestiques left, the two-time Tour de France champion decided to pace hard on the gravel section, while one by one GC riders dropped from the group. It was unusual to see that Pogačar chose to ride defensively, not making a huge acceleration as he usually does.
In the final metres, Jonas Vingegaard even attacked Pogačar, who struggled hard to hold the Dane’s wheel, but immediately before the finish line Pogačar overtook Vingegaard, taking his 8th stage victory in the Tour de France.
Results powered by FirstCycling.com
Pogačar broke the La Super Planche des Belles Filles record by 19 seconds, which previously was held by Geraint Thomas, who was the fastest one out of the GC group in the 2019 Tour stage.
Pogačar and Vingegaard both did the climb in 19 minutes and 43 seconds, doing 6.62 w/kg. Geraint Thomas despite finished 5th, beating his 2019 time by 6 seconds with definitely room for a faster time because the UAE Team Emirates mountain train was pacing extremely hard the entire climb.
Despite this being a unipuerto stage, the day was not that easy as the riders did 14.29 kj/kg/h for 3:37h. The average temperature before the climb, according to Sepp Kuss’ headunit providing his data on Strava, was 30C. Pogačar performed at his usual level, according to the w/kg trendline but did not do anything out of this world.
Vingegaard proved that he can challenge almost anyone on this punchy climb that suited Pogačar slightly more. Vingegaard is in his peak shape and has improved since 2021. In Tirreno-Adriatico on Monte Carpegna he did 0.66 w/kg less for almost 21 minutes. Vingegaard is better on longer climbs like Col du Granon and Alpe d’Huez and Hautacam, where he might drop Pogačar like he did on Ventoux in the 2021 Tour.
Roglič unfortunately crashed hard in stage 5 and dislocated his shoulder. Despite all the pain, he still is fighting hard and finished 3rd today. Roglič is recovering from his injuries and feels pain, while riding, which might be the reason why he lacked 0.1-0.2 w/kg on La Planche des Bellles Filles. But still, it was a good performance even by his own standards.
In the final 1.5 kilometres Sepp Kuss did 6.62 w/kg and lost to Pogačar 40 seconds in this section, which means the leaders must have done way over 7 w/kg in the last 4 minutes of this race. The climb was irregular and before the 1.5 km mark they did 5 w/kg for 66 seconds on the shallower gradients, when Rafal Majka was struggling to pull. Pogacar will need a higher level from Majka in future mountain stages if Jumbo-Visma or INEOS mount an attack on the Slovenian.