The boss is him: Tadej Pogacar took power on Wednesday in Paris-Nice by winning at the top of the Loge des Gardes, a small ski resort in the Allier, with a second ahead of an amazing David Gaudu .
New yellow jersey, the Slovenian now has a 44-second lead in the general classification over his great Danish rival Jonas Vingegaard, whom he blew up in the last two kilometers of the formidable final ascent (6.7 km at 7.1% on average).
“It was not my goal to take the yellow jersey today but you should never say no to yellow. It’s nice to find this color”, reacted “Pogi”, double winner of the Tour de France in 2020 and 2021 before ditching the tunic at Vingegaard last summer.
If the next Tour is still a long way off, Pogacar, who has already won his sixth victory of the year, made an impression by cutting the line with 43 seconds on the Dane. This one had however planted the first banderilla a little more than four kilometers from the finish. But he never managed to get Pogacar off his wheel, before finally breaking down himself and finishing only sixth in the stage at 43 seconds.
The French managed a superb group shot with four representatives in the Top 7, also counting Aurélien Paret-Peintre (4th), the young Kevin Vauquelin (5th) -at the same time as Vingegaard-, and Romain Bardet just behind (7th at 51 sec).
“It’s very satisfying,” Vauquelin reported. “A very nice stage for me”, reacted Paret-Peintre, at the end of a stage run under a gray and humid sky.
The best of them will have been David Gaudu who climbs to second place overall, ten seconds behind Pogacar and who can cultivate great ambitions in this race which ends in two mountainous stages around Nice this weekend.
– Second yes “but behind Pogacar!” –
Starting against 3.5 km from the summit, when the two ogres got up after their first attack, he was even able to envisage victory by taking nearly 20 seconds in advance, before seeing Pogacar come back with a bang.
“In the sprint, he was stronger than me. I’m still second but it’s second behind Pogacar!”, Said the Breton climber who had already finished in this place on the Ardèche Classic behind Julian Alaphillipe end FEBRUARY.
“On the first attack” by Vingegaard and Pogacar, “everyone had the same reaction: we are going to let them do the show in front. But when we came back, I anticipated and saw that I had no one in my wheel. We will not have 40,000 opportunities to beat them on a summit finish,” added Gaudu, fourth in the last Tour de France.
Pogacar, who never misses an opportunity to win, knew that “we should not let Gaudu get too far ahead”.
As for Vingegaard’s attack, which he did not relay, the Slovenian explained that he had “preferred to wait a bit”, without ever appearing in danger. On the steep slopes of the Loge des Gardes, in the middle of the forest, he was the boss and the development was scathing.
Thursday, the sprinters will have a last opportunity to explain themselves with a return to the plain during the fifth stage which stings due south towards Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, in the Drôme.