By Julien Pretot
L’ALPE D’HUEZ, France (Reuters) – Tadej Pogacar attacked Tour de France overall leader Jonas Vingegaard twice in the ascent to L’Alpe d’Huez on Thursday in a bid to reclaim the yellow jersey but the defending champion admitted lacking a bit of self-confidence a day after cracking in a gruelling Alpine stage.
Vingegaard’s Jumbo-Visma set a devilish pace in the first part of the 13.8-km climb at 8.1%, preventing any attack from the 23-year-old, who lost some three minutes when he came under fire from the Dane’s team on Wednesday.
It was only with less than four kilometres to go that Pogacar could make his first move and Vingegaard followed easily, also barely getting out of the saddle when the second attack came.
“He did some good attacks, he was strong today and luckily I was able to follow him,” Vingegaard told reporters. “He looked strong. In the end I was there so today was a good day.”
Vingegaard leads second-placed Pogacar by two minutes 22 seconds after the two big Alpine stages but the Slovenian promised he would continue to fight, looking ahead to the Pyrenees in the third week.
“I think after yesterday I was not as confident as I thought I’d be,” Pogacar said candidly the day after the biggest defeat of his career.
“I could have been stronger today but I’m ok with the result, it’s still a long way to go, the Tour is not over.
“I know why I suffered yesterday, this will not happen again. I’m pretty confident. Jonas is super super strong but I need to find a way to regain some minutes.”
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)