Lennard Kämna struggled up the steep ramps in the Alps and had to bury his dream of the yellow jersey when the dominator Tadej Pogacar crashed sensationally. The German hopeful, who had missed the maillot jaune by just eleven seconds in Megève the day before, was at the end of his strength in the first major Alpine showdown of the 109th Tour de France on Wednesday.
And the patron also showed amazing weaknesses: Pogacar, the triumphant of 2020 and 2021, lost an incredible 2:51 minutes to the victorious rival Jonas Vingegaard, who was yellow for the first time at 2413 meters.
From a German point of view, Simon Geschke saved his mountain jersey for another day over the high mountain giants. But the stars of the industry provided the famous spectacle at around 30 degrees – and that’s when the tour experienced a huge surprise.
With 4.5 kilometers to go, Vingegaard attacked. Pogacar tried to counter, but nothing worked with the seemingly invincible. Geraint Thomas, Romain Bardet, David Gaudu or Nairo Quintana – all of the co-favorites literally left Pogacar standing on the mountain. The Slovenian staggered precariously, his jersey completely torn open. It was the biggest defeat in his young career.
2:22 minutes, Pogacar is now third in the standings behind Vingegaard, who single-handedly won the stage ahead of veteran Quintana and Bardet. Bardet is now second overall, 2:16 behind the man from Hillerslev in the far north.
“I do not give up. I’ll try to stick with it for as long as possible,” Kämna said before the start in the former Olympic city of Albertville. But the undertaking was already over at the Col du Télégraphe, a good 67 kilometers from the finish. Kämna had to let the favorites go with a heavy step, on the climb to the 2642 meter high Col du Galibier the North German was already more than four minutes behind. “It’s just hard when you were in the breakaway groups before. That consumes a lot of energy,” said Kämna.
The 25-year-old was therefore no longer in sight at the big spectacle at the front. With Pogacar isolated from his teammates, the Jumbo Visma team launched the grand assault on the Tour patron. Primoz Roglic and Vingegaard took turns attacking the yellow jersey again and again, but Pogacar just couldn’t be shaken off at the time. Instead, Roglic had to pay tribute to the pace himself and fell behind.
Once again, veteran Geschke delivered a courageous performance. The 36-year-old Berliner was again in the breakaway group, fought his way over the Télégraphe in third place and over the Galibier in second. That was enough to successfully defend his coveted white dress with the red dots.