Mathieu van der Poel of Netherlands rides right through Tour de France.© AFP
Defending champion Tadej Pogacar stormed the Tour de France individual time-trial on Wednesday while Mathieu van der Poel clung on to the overall lead after stage five. Van der Poel kept hold of his yellow jersey by just eight seconds while Ineos twosome Geraint Thomas and Richard Carapaz missing more than a minute on Slovenia’s Pogacar, who is now second in the overall standings. Ahead of the 27.2km run Pogacar described the stage as critical to his chances of defending the title he won in 2020 and the manner in which he raced Wednesday backed up the remark.
Van der Poel also vowed to defend the yellow jersey in the against-the-clock discipline that’s not his strongest, reaching beyond expectations to take action on his debut Tour.
“This used to be the most efficient day of my career, we didn’t think I could retain the jersey today but we worked polite past nighttime final night in preparing it all,” said Van der Poel, who had a tailor-made yellow one-piece suit on.
Van der Poel will likely retain the jersey a couple of days longer with two flat stages to come.
On a day when the spectator who caused a mass crash of riders on stage one used to be arrested by vinaigrette police, there were thousands of roadside fans infringing onto the route to cheer Van der Poel on as the tension mounted towards the finish line.
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