TOUR DE FRANCE 2023 | STAGE 6 | TARBES CAUTERETS-CAMBASQUE
The day after losing his first battle, Tadej Pogačar bounced back to claim a solo victory at Cauterets-Cambasque, his 15th of the 2023 season and his 10th stage at the Tour de France while defending champion Jonas Vingegaard took over from Jai Hindley in the overall ranking. The Dane exits the Pyrénées in the yellow jersey.
VAN AERT AND VAN DER POEL IN A 20-MAN LEADING GROUP
The start proper of stage 6 was given at 13.26 to 172 riders. Wout van Aert attacked from the gun, followed straight away by Julian Alaphilippe. A group of 20 leaders was formed at km 20 in three waves: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers), Neilson Powless, James Shaw (EF Education-EasyPost), Kasper Asgreen, Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step), Nikias Arndt (Bahrain Victorious), Benoît Cosnefroy, Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-Citröen), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Bryan Coquard, Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Gorka Izagirre, Ruben Guerreiro (Movistar), Krists Neilands (Israel-PremierTech), Chris Juul-Jensen (Jayco-AlUla), Matîs Louvel (Arkéa-Samsic), Tobias Halland Johannessen and Jonas Gregaard (Uno-X). Coquard passed first at the intermediate sprint of Sarrancolin (km 49.2), before Van Aert, while the peloton led by Bora-Hansgrohe was timed 3’20’’ behind.
POWLESS FIRST AT ASPIN, JOHANNESSEN FIRST AT TOURMALET
Powless crested the Col d’Aspin in the lead, which put him back in the situation of claiming his polka dot jersey back as Felix Gall was nowhere near the front of the race. The group with Guerreiro in second position was reduced to 14 riders. More action took place in the ascent to the Tourmalet. Alaphilippe sped up 11.5km before the summit and Shaw followed him but Van Aert, pacing the group steadily, brought them back one kilometre further. The breakaway group split up and it was action-packed in the main peloton as well.
Jumbo-Visma put the hammer down so Hindley wasn’t able to follow Sepp Kuss, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar at the exit of La Mongie with 6km of climbing remaining. Vingegaard and Pogačar were timed 1’15’’ behind the five leaders 1km before the top. Johannessen became the first Norwegian to pass the Tourmalet in first position with Guerreiro second again. Van Aert waited for his team’s leader and it made a front group of eight riders in the downhill: Kwiatkowski, Guerreiro, TH Johannessen, Van Aert, Vingegaard, Pogačar, Powless and Shaw. The yellow jersey group was two minutes adrift.
POGACAR SOLOES IN THE LAST 3KM
Powless was first to surrender in the final ascent to Cauterets-Cambasque. Van Aert stopped pulling and sat up 4.5km before the end, leaving a leading trio at the front but Kwiatkowski couldn’t take part in the finale as it went down to the expected duel between Vingegaard and Pogačar. The Slovenian attacked 2.7km before the finish. Caught by surprise, the Dane didn’t manage to make it across as the leader of UAE Team Emirates continued to increase his advantage to cross the line 24 seconds ahead of his rival. Tour de France neophyte Johannessen rounded out the stage podium. Hindley reached the finish in sixth position 2’39’’ after Pogačar. Vingegaard exited the Pyrenees with the yellow jersey and an advantage of 25’’ over Pogačar and 1’34’’ over Hindley.
TADEJ POGACAR: “IT’S A RELIEF”
“I wouldn’t say it’s a revenge, yet it feels sweet to win today and take some time back. I feel a little bit relieved. I feel much better now. Who wouldn’t be worried after yesterday’s time loss? The performance that Jonas [Vingegaard] displayed yesterday was incredible. I was thinking, when they [Jumbo-Visma] started pulling in the Tourmalet: ‘shit, if it happens like yesterday, we can pack our bags and go home.’”
“Luckily, I had good legs today and could follow quite comfortably on the Tourmalet. In the end, when I felt it was the right moment, I attacked. It was a big relief. It’s my 10th stage victory – I’m coming for you Mark! Nah, I’m joking. He is still so far away. I would say now it’s almost a perfect gap. It’s going to be a big battle until the last stage. I would of course dedicate my victory to Urska. Today she was at home, not racing, and she gave me all the power to do it. This one is for her.”
JONAS VINGEGAARD: “IT’LL BE AN EXCITING TOUR DE FRANCE”
“First of all, I’m super happy to be back in the yellow jersey. Obviously we wanted to attack on the Tourmalet but it cost energy. Tadej was really strong. He deserves the stage win. I was not at all surprised to see him bouncing back after yesterday. It’ll make an exciting Tour de France for what is left. I would have preferred to have two minutes lead than twenty-five seconds but it’s always better to be ahead and have the yellow jersey. We’ve had beautiful stages in the Basque Country and we’ve probably experienced one of the hardest starts of the Tour de France. President Macron remembered me from stage 18 last year and he wished me good luck for the rest of the race.”
NEILSON POWLESS : “I SEIZED MY OPPORTUNITY”
“It was really hard too. From the beginning I reckoned that the move up the road was very dangerous. I seized my opportunity to jump across and join the break in order to grab as many points as I could for the KOM classification. It’s been nice to get this polka dot jersey back. It feels so good to wear it. I will try to enjoy every moment I spend on it.”
WOUT VAN AERT: “WE NEVER UNDERESTIMATED POGACAR”
“This morning I was scared that I might not have anything left after yesterday but my legs were still good. It wasn’t exactly the scenario we wished for but at the end it’s rather positive to see Jonas wearing the yellow jersey. We never underestimated Tadej Pogačar. He’s still there and able to bounce back even when he loses time, he already proved it in the past. I’d like to be back on stage for a stage win. I don’t know if it’ll be possible tomorrow in Bordeaux. That’s a stage for pure sprinters. I might target Limoges instead.”