Today’s story: Pogacar’s takeover
For a good part of the stage, we wondered if Wout van Aert’s adventure might not be the highlight of the day. For a yellow jersey at the top of his game to embark on such a mess at three, and even at two and a half as Jakob Fuglsang was not of much use, it was surprising to say the least… and physically impressive. But Tadej Pogacar swept that thought away as he swept away the competition on the Côte des Religieuses at Longwy.
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When discussing the possible scenarios on Thursday morning, we mentioned a possible fireworks display in the wall represented by the Côte de Pulventeux, five kilometers from the finish. In which case, a leader of the general – and the name of Tadej Pogacar floated in the air – could claim victory in Longwy. On the other hand, no one had imagined that it was on the final quasi-flat that the Slovenian was going to make the difference when there was still a fast man like Michael Matthews in the group.
When Primoz Roglic launched more than 300m from the line (!), his compatriot who knows him so well jumped into his wheel. The “Pogi” hunter waited a few more hectometres for himself to stand on the pedals. It really didn’t take long to realize that the case was heard. Michael Matthews sat back down, David Gaudu topped out and himself maintained the speed. One then two glances back and it was time to celebrate.
A lightning sprint and Pogacar takes power: the finish of the 6th stage
After the cobblestones on Wednesday, the little prince of the Tour passed the second layer. And if he took 13 seconds from most of his opponents in the North of France, the addition is ten in Lorraine thanks to the bonus. It will perhaps (probably?) be a drop of water in Paris, but by dint of typing here and there, Pogacar can already count on a mattress of 31 seconds on Vingegaard, 39 on Yates, 40 on Thomas and 52 on Vlasov. Not bad for a first week.
The big loser: Michael Matthews
His name was on everyone’s lips for an arrival cut out for him. Imagine how his rating skyrocketed when Wout Van Aert embarked on a doomed adventure. Michael Matthews failed to triumph at Longwy, confirming that for some time now he has very often come across stronger than him (only one success between 2020 and 2022). He imagined maybe having to fight with Mathieu van der Poel or “WVA”, possibly with Jasper Philipsen, certainly not with Tadej Pogacar…
The image: A yellow jersey alone in the lead on a flat stage
Untenable, Van Aert (finally) manages to escape
The stubbornness of Wout Van Aert. We can quibble about his tactics, about the merits of finding ourselves in a galley in a trio, two, three, four or five minutes in front of the peloton, but seeing the overall leader stand up a good ten times on the pedals to making the difference was exhilarating.
The PR debate: “Did Van Aert mess up?”
Alexis Vuillermoz’s attempt which took us back seven years to when he outwitted Chris Froome, Dan Martin and the others on the slopes of Mûr-de-Bretagne. The TotalEnergies puncher took advantage of the Côte de Pulventeux and its terrible slope to extricate himself from what was left of the peloton. Alas, the gap was not enough to resist the return of his adversaries on the much more rolling coast of the Religious.
Forgive us. If some are already tired of Tadej Pogacar, his acceleration and perhaps even more his happiness when cutting the line, were exhilarating. Yes, his dominance seems to be taking a relentless new turn, but seeing a kid shine on such different terrains cannot leave a cycling lover indifferent.
We didn’t like
See Mathieu van der Poel dropped at the start of the stage. Wednesday morning, he had sworn he had bad legs and some were crying bluff. His ghost day on the cobbles and this new episode confirm that the Dutchman is not at his best (to put it mildly).
He is unrecognizable: Van der Poel lost time at the start of the stage
The new fall of Mathieu Burgaudeau, on the left shoulder, the same as the one who had already suffered a few days ago. The young Frenchman from TotalEnergies, winner of a Paris-Nice stage at the start of the season, is having a very complicated first week when his qualities could have enabled him to show off. Overall, the Burgaudeau season is very disrupted by crashes (Classic Loire Atlantique, French Championships, Tour de France, etc.).
The statement: Wout van Aert
The idea was to take the breakaway and that was very difficult. At the end of the day, there were only three of us up front, so I was well aware that it would be difficult to go all the way. But I wanted to continue to honor the Yellow Jersey and give the public a little something to enjoy.
Three stats to remember
49.4 : This sixth stage was disputed at a crazy pace, especially in its first part with a huge fight for the breakaway. Helped by an often favorable wind, the riders completed it at an average speed of 49.376 km/h. Or the fourth fastest stage in history.
seven : Three plus three plus one which makes seven. In Longwy, Tadej Pogacar gleaned his seventh stage victory in the Tour de France. It’s as much as Chris Froome or Wout van Aert among the active runners, a ranking in which he is only ahead of Mark Cavendish (34) and Peter Sagan (12).
11 : In six stages, Wout van Aert has already climbed the ceremonial podium eleven times. Once as a stage winner, four as a yellow jersey, five as a green jersey and one to finish as the most combative.
Just to know
What does Neilson Powless think of the bonuses? Those garnered by Wout Van Aert before the cobblestones deprived him of the yellow jersey. Rebelote in Longwy with the ten seconds gleaned by Pogacar.
What would have happened if the coup with Van Aert, Pogacar, Vingegaard or Gaudu had gone?
When will Mathieu van der Poel decide that he has more to lose than to gain by staying on the Tour de France?
Did Thibaut Pinot knowingly waste time? The Franc-Comtois had hung on the cobblestones but finished at almost three minutes this Thursday. And tomorrow, it’s the Planche des Belles Filles, at his place…
The quiz of the day
The answer to Wednesday’s quiz was Peter Sagan, effectively winner at Longwy in 2017 ahead of Michael Matthews and Dan Martin.
Sagan 2017 vs Pogacar 2022: remote duel in Longwy
Here is today’s:
Ten years ago, the Tour de France discovered La Planche des Belles Filles. Chris Froome won his first Tour success there, but who finished second?
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