COL DU GRAND COLOMBIER (France) • Tadej Pogacar beat fellow Slovenian and overall leader Primoz Roglic to win the 15th stage of the Tour de France and his second here, but the biggest talking point of the race was defending champion Egan Bernal all but abandoning his crown yesterday.
The Colombian was dropped 13km from the finish at the top of the Col du Grand Colombier, an unforgiving 17.4km ascent at an average gradient of 7.1 per cent, and lost over seven minutes on the line.
Two-time runner-up and fellow Colombian Nairo Quintana also quickly lost contact with the leading group led by Roglic's Jumbo-Visma teammates, who set a frantic tempo from the bottom of the climb. Pogacar, however, was the freshest man in the finale as he outsprinted Roglic for the victory at the end of a punishing 174.5km trek in the Jura mountains.
Australian Richie Porte took third place. Roglic now leads Pogacar by 40 seconds and Colombian Rigoberto Uran by 1min 34sec.
Bernal, who was third overall and 59sec off the pace before the start in Lyon, fell out of the top 10 and is now 8min 25sec behind the Jumbo-Visma leader, a scenario that practically ends the Ineos Grenadiers cyclist's title defence.
UAE Team Emirates' Pogacar admitted Roglic was the man to beat, but with six stages left, he retains hope that his main opponent will falter, just like Bernal.
"Jumbo-Visma set a really high pace all day and it made it a really difficult stage. I was waiting for the sprint at the end and I'm so happy to win again," he said.
"Jumbo was really prepared for today and in my point of view, there was no point to attack. Jumbo did a hard pace. The plan is to try everything to win the Tour de France.
"Primoz Roglic looks unstoppable but today, Bernal cracked and maybe he will, you never know in a stage race."