Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) showcased his form as he outsprinted fellow countryman Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) to take second place behind Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) on stage 2 of the Tour de France at Mûr-de-Bretagne.
The defending champion had already pipped Roglič to second place at the bonus sprint atop the same climb with 17km remaining. In the overall standings, Pogačar now lies third overall, 13 seconds down on the new yellow jersey Van der Poel, and one second ahead of Roglič.
“It was a good day,” said Pogačar, who remains in the white jersey of best young rider. “First things first, everyone in our team started the stage: it make us happy that Marc [Hirschi] recovered well from yesterday’s crash.
“I would have liked to win, but I am also happy to see Mathieu van der Poel win. It would have been difficult for me to win today, because there were many guys following my every move.”
Pogačar was well marshalled by his UAE Team Emirates squad throughout a sometimes fraught finale in Brittany, and he was to the fore on the first ascent of Mûr-de-Bretagne, kicking clear of Roglič, yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) to pick up five bonus seconds for second place behind Van der Poel there.
Ineos proceeded to control the race on the run-in to the final haul up Mûr-de-Bretagne, where Van der Poel unleashed his winning attack with 700 metres to go. Pogačar had no immediate response, but he was prominent when the chasing group broke up within sight of the line. He clipped away with Roglič and Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) and won the sprint for second at six seconds. The bulk of the GC contenders came in a further two seconds back, though both Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Movistar) lost 23 seconds to the rampant Van der Poel.
“In the end I took the second place, and I’m happy with that,” said Pogačar. “It was a surprise for me to see Mathieu attacking on the first climb, even if he joked at the beginning of the stage with me that we three [Pogačar, Roglič, Van der Poel] should go on the attack today. I’m happy with where I am right now. I’m pleased with my shape and with how my Tour de France is looking.”
The sprinters should be to the fore on the road to Pontivy and Fougères in the next two days, but Pogačar and Roglič face an important test on stage 5, the 27.2km time trial from Changé to Laval.
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