Jumbo-Visma went all out in the Tour de France Stage 14, trying to test Tadej Pogačar after an intensive, kilojoule packed stage in hot conditions.
It was an extremely hard climbing day and Jumbo-Visma took advantage of the route and paced hard all day, never letting the breakaway get any advantage. Thomas Pidcock who was the 3rd fastest climber from the GC group on Puy de Dome and Galibier even got distanced on the Col de la Ramaz more than 50 kilometres from the finish. The Dutch team clearly intended to test Pogačar, hoping the Slovene might break after an intensive climbing day with multiple mountain passes.
Col de Joux Plane is a legendary climb, often used in the Tour de France and Criterium du Dauphiné. With a tailwind today up Joux Plane, Jumbo-Visma used all their resources to keep the tempo as high as possible. Even Wout van Aert was still in the group and was productive for a few minutes, overtaking Rafal Majka after initially being dropped. As usual, Sepp Kuss was at a very high level, probably having the best season a mountain domestique has ever had in the history of cycling, after aiding Roglic to his Giro victory in May. The American decimated the group to only a few riders, even dropping Felix Gall, Jai Hindley and Carlos Rodriguez.
After Kuss job was done Adam Yates set up an attack for Tadej Pogačar. Pogačar again attacked Vingegaard and got a small gap but the Dane was not far from him the whole time. The steep gradients suited Vingegaard and despite Pogačar’s burst being stronger the Dane came back and they both stopped trying.
Marco Pantani’s 1997 record on Joux Plane has been untouchable for many years. The Italian did the climb in 32:50 min with 6,65 ᵉW/Kg. The fastest rider in the last 20 years until today was Mark Padun, who did Joux Plane in the 2021 Dauhpiné breakaway in 34:53 min with 6,22 ᵉW/Kg, dropping Vingegaard who was preparing for his Tour de France debut (where he eventually came second).
Both Pogačar and Vingegaard had the chance to break the old Pantani record despite a very hard stage. But after Vingegaard caught Pogačar, the gladiators surplaced and did the final 5 minutes and 30 seconds at 4.90 ᵉW/Kg. Despite the tactics, they both still did the fastest Joux Plane since 1997, setting a time of 33:52 min, pushing 6.24 ᵉW/Kg. After Vingegaard caught PogačarBefore they did 6.49 ᵉW/Kg for 28:22 min. If the tempo had remained the same until the top, the climbing time would be 32:37 min and even if they had only slowed down a little bit the Pantani 32:50 min time could have still been broken.
But no one cares about climbing records as the Tour de France win is on the line and the maillot jaune is what really matter. Vingegaard beat Pogačar in the sprint for bonus seconds at the top of the climb after a motorbike stopped Pogačar's customary attack from 500 metres. As both stars slowed down, Adam Yates and Carlos Rodriguez were able to return on the plateau before the descent to Morzine. The young Spaniard astutely attacked just before the descent and was flying, opening up a small gap over the GC leaders to win his first Grand Tour stage.
Rodriguez also overtook Jai Hindley in the GC and now is in 3rd place with Hindley and Adam Yates not that far away. With Rodriguez potentially transfering to Movistar after the season and Pidcock losing 8:40 min, it is not looking too good for the INEOS GC future. Pogačar despite losing a single bonus second to Vingegaard,must be happy with the outcome, as the Dutch team did everything to expose a potential weakness but the Slovene was too strong.
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