Defending champion Tadej Pogacar soared into the Tour de France overall lead on Saturday on an Alpine stage won by Belgian Dylan Teuns. Slovenian leader Pogacar finished fourth, around a minute behind Teuns, but took another three minutes out of his most credible rival, Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz. Last year's second-placed rider, Primoz Roglic, has decided to abandon the race.
Overnight leader Mathieu van der Poel went into a trademark 'all or nothing' meltdown and later said he will decide on Monday if he will drop out of the Tour to jet off to Tokyo to contest the Olympic mountain bike gold.
Pogacar was again head and shoulders above the rest of the field. He attacked from the group of contenders a full 30km out after his sports director said ahead of the day's stage "the Tour de France starts here."
With 13 stages remaining, Pogacar leads the Tour by 1min 48sec from Belgian Wout Van Aert, who is the Jumbo team's main hope after Primoz Roglic's misadventures with a fall and subsequent decline in form.
Van Aert insists he can't win the Tour because of his large frame with all the mountains ahead.
"I'm too heavy," he said, with his team unsure now how to proceed after Roglic had another dreadful day.
"That hurt," said the Jumbo sports director Frans Maassen. "We'll have to rethink things tonight."
On Sunday morning, Primoz Roglic confirmed that this year's race is over for him.
Pogacar gets to the front early
Twenty-two-year-old Pogacar will wear the yellow jersey for only the second time on Sunday. He took control of the 2020 Tour on the penultimate day, but rather than bide his time on this raucous edition, he has seized control early.
Teuns, a 29-year-old Belgian who also won a stage on the 2019 Tour de France on the Planche des Belles Fille climb, dedicated his win to his grandmother.
"I hope she's not suffering too much by being alone," said Teuns, who was only 12sec ahead of Pogacar at the summit of the final climb.
"I didn't know he was so close, there was so much noise up there," said Teuns, who rode recklessly on the descent to open a larger lead on the gifted descender Pogacar.
Champion leaves them trailing
When Pogacar applied the pressure, only Carapaz was able to follow, but not for long.
"Attack is the best defence," Pogacar said. "I haven't won the Tour de France yet," he said looking ahead to Sunday's stage with it's summit finish at Tignes.
"Tomorrow we have a super-super hard stage, we may have to defend there," he said, looking pale and cold after his long day in the rain.