Pogacar Wins Stage 6 of Tour de France 2023
Stage 6 of Tour de France 2023 was designed by race organizer A.S.O. as an additional mountain battle. The riders would have to conquer one Hors Category climb, two Category 1 climbs, and one Category 3 climb on the 144.9-kilometer route from Tarbes to Cauterets-Cambasque. The route featured the legendary Col d’Aspin and Col du Tourmalet mountains.
A twenty-man breakaway group established itself shortly after the start of the stage. The group featured noteworthy riders such as Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos-Grenadiers), Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar Team), and Gorka Izagirre (Movistar Team).
The breakaway group built a lead of approximately five minutes, while Bora-Hansgrohe riders led the main peloton in support of their race leader Jai Hindley.
Powless was first across the summit of the Col d’Aspin and thereby gained valuable points for the Best Rider Classification.
Frenchman Alaphilippe attacked from the front group on the Col du Tourmalet with more than eleven kilometers left of the Hors Categorie climb (HC; 17 km; 7.4 percent average gradient). He was joined by James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost) who, however, did not take any leads, because he was protecting the interests of teammate Powless who was hoping to gain the most points on the summit.
Meanwhile, Team Jumbo-Visma had moved to the front of the main peloton, while heavy sprinters such as Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) were dropping off the back.
With five kilometers left to climb of the Col du Tourmalet, the front group had been reduced to eight riders. The group now featured van Aert, Kwiatkowski, Powless, Shaw, Alaphilippe, Guerreiro, Tobias Halland Johannessen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), and Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team). They had a lead of approximately 03:30 minutes over the main peloton.
Jumbo-Visma increased the pace at the front of the main peloton, and this caused Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen) and other riders to be dropped. The main peloton group was now reduced to a small number of riders. Yellow jersey-wearer Hindley was dropped too.
2.8 kilometers from the top of Col du Tourmalet, only Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) were left as the main peloton had been split into atoms. Kuss set a fast pace while attacks were anticipated. Meanwhile, behind the Kuss-Vingegaard-Pogacar trio a group of riders gathered around Hindley to form a strong chase group.
Vingegaard attacked with 1.4 kilometers left of the climb Vingegaard launched a strong attack and Pogacar responded immediately. The duo pressed on and looked set to catch the two groups of riders in front of them.
At the front, Van Aert, Kwiatkowski, Shaw, Guerreiro, and Johannessen pressed on. Behind them were Powless, Krists Neilandts (Israel-PremierTech) and Gregaard.
Johannessen was first across the Tourmalet, behind Guerreiro, who deviated from his line and used his elbow to push Johannessen in the mountaintop sprint.
Powless and van Aert joined the Vingegaard-Pogacar duo on the descent from the Tourmalet. The speed was intense.
Van Aert, Pogacar, Vingegaard, and Powless were still together when they reached the final climb of the day – the Cauterets-Cambrasque. The winner of stage 6 would be found on the top of the mountain.
Approximately three minutes behind the front quartet, a larger group had been established. The group featured outsiders for the general classification such as Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious), Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgrohe), Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Simon Yates (Jayco-Alula), and Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen).
Vingegaard, Powless, Pogacar, and Van Aert were joined by Shaw, Kwiatkowski, Guerreiro, and Johannessen. These riders were still together with 9.5 kilometers left of the stage.
Powless was dropped. The front group now featured seven riders who were aiming for a noteworthy Tour de France stage victory to be remembered.
Vingegaard attacked with 4.6 kilometers left. Pogacar followed. Kwiatkowski impressively tried to follow but was dropped.
Pogacar launched a very powerful attack with 2.7 kilometers left of the stage. Vingegaard was unable to follow. Pogacar’s acceleration was incredible. French President Emmanuel Macron passed Vingegaard and Pogacar in the race director car. Macron was visiting the Tour de France today and was looking forward to congratulating the stage winner on the podium.
Pogacar soloed on towards the finish line and took the stage victory ahead of Vingegaard. Pogacar crossed the finish line in 03:54:27 – 24 seconds faster than Vingegaard and also secured ten bonus seconds as winner of the stage. Vingegaard is the new general classification leader, but his advantage over Pogacar is decimated.
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