July 15, 2021: UAE Team Emirates' star man, Tadej Pogacar wins Stage 17 of the Tour de France after a gripping final climb to extend his lead in the yellow jersey atop the highest summit finish of the race, the Col du Portet.
Prior to the race, Pogacar had described the Bastille Day stage, from Muret to the Col du Portet, as the hardest of the 2021 Tour. Despite this, the defending champion showed his class throughout the race to take the victory.
The Slovenian starlet, who split the general classification contender's group with an attack halfway up the 16-kilometre hors-categorie climb, took podium rivals Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) to the final ascent with him.
Halfway through the last climb, Pogačar attacked, with only Vingegaard and Carapaz able to follow. With 2km to go Carapaz launched a decisive attack but was unable to shake off Pogačar.
On the final metres the trio reunited with Pogačar launching the final sprint which earned him not only the stage but precious seconds over his rivals in the general classification.
Carapaz climbs to third overall after Rigobert Uran was dropped on the hillside.
Pogacar said: “The team have worked really hard every day to defend the yellow jersey. Every day has been good for breakaways so every day we couldn't really do much. Today was a good course to control the breakaway much better and the guys did a fantastic job. We were 50/50 to go for the stage or just defend, but everybody felt good and in the end we succeeded.
“[On the final climb] only me and Jonas [Vingegaard] worked together. I tried a couple of times to go clear, just because more time is better. In the end I just sprinted the last 150 metres.
“Jonas said to me, he thought Carapaz is bluffing and I knew it also. It was nothing unusual. This is the tactic in cycling. And then he tried to attack. But I really tried to catch him and just hold his wheel, but it was super hard.
“It was a fantastic day, to win in the yellow is something I cannot describe.”
Tour de France overall classification after Stage 17
1. Tadej Pogacar, UAE Team Emirates 71h 26' 27'
2. Jonas Vingegaard, Jumbo Visma +5'39'
3. Richard Carapaz, Ineos Grenadiers +5'43'