Tadej Pogačar admitted his chance of winning the 2022 Tour de France were gone and sportingly praised Jonas Vingegaard after the Dane waited for him after his crash and then dropped him on the final climb to Hautacam and so extended his overall race lead.
Pogačar is now 3:26 down on Vingegaard with only Friday’s flat stage to Cahors and Saturday’s 40.7km time trial to race before Sunday’s final stage in Paris.
He conceded a third consecutive victory at the Tour de France has surely gone.
“I guess. Yes,” he admitted in the mixed zone post stage after congratulating Vingegaard in person and pulling on another best young rider's white jersey on the podium.
"The Tour is more or less decided. I congratulated Jonas on today and on the Tour. I think he's won it."
“There’s still one stage I can try to win and I’ll give my all until Paris, which is three days away.”
Pogačar tried to attack Vingegaard several times on the climb of the Col de Spandelles but simply couldn’t get rid of him.
He then went off the road on a curve on the descent and lost control of his bike in the deep gravel. He was left with road rash and a hole in his shorts but refused to give up.
He was eventually dropped on the climb to the finish by the Dane and his incredible teammate Wout van Aert, who was up front on the climb to Hautacam after being in the attack of the day.
“I gave it all today, I wasn’t thinking about the stage win, I was thinking about the yellow jersey,” Pogačar said.
“I gave it my all on the second to last climb, crashed on the downhill, gave it my all on the last climb but second place is the best for me. I think I did all I could and I think I can be proud of the result.”
Pogačar admitted the crash was his fault but played down its impact in his race.
“I don’t know, who knows?” he said when asked if it affected his race.
“For sure it’s not nice to crash but I was pushing it and I crashed. It was my fault. Whatever, Jonas was really, really strong.”
“There couldn’t be a better way to lose the Tour de France than this,” Pogačar added. “I gave it all today thinking of the GC. I will leave the race with no regrets.
Pogačar also played down the loss of several key teammates in the last week due to COVID-19 and injuries.
“Jonas was the strongest and even with eight teammates it would have been hard to beat him, but maybe we would have had more chances to attack him in the last week,” Pogačar concluded with little regret and huge fair play.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.