(Reuters) – Tadej Pocagar has promised revenge after ceding the Tour de France yellow jersey to Jonas Vingegaard on Wednesday as the two-time defending champion endured a brutal day on the slopes of Col du Granon in the Alps on the 11th stage.
Slovenian Pogacar, whose UAE Emirates team has been weakened after two riders pulled out of the race with COVID-19, looked unbreakable in the first block of racing but cracked after being attacked relentlessly by the Jumbo-Visma team of 25-year-old Dane Vingegaard, last year’s runner-up.
Vingegaard attacked 4.9km from the finish to drop Pogacar, who crossed the line two minutes and 51 seconds behind the new yellow jersey holder.
Pogacar dropped to third overall in the standings, six seconds behind second-placed Frenchman Romain Bardet of the DSM team, who trails Vingegaard by two minutes and 16 seconds.
“I want revenge, I want to race until the end,” the 23-year-old Pogacar said. “I want to give it everything and to have no regrets.
“I was suffering until the end. They (Jumbo-Visma) played it really smart, for us it was really hard to control. Tactically, they did a good job.
“It was a bad day in the end but I will keep fighting. It’s still not over, there are still a lot of stages to go … I lost three minutes today, maybe tomorrow I (will) gain three minutes.”
Next up for the peloton is another demanding ride, and a summit finish, on Thursday – France’s national Bastille Day holiday – in the 165.1km trek from Briancon to the iconic Alpe d’Huez, the 12th of the race’s 21 stages.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)