Andorra – Defending champion Tadej Pogacar confidently defended his yellow jersey on the wild Pyrenees ride to Andorra and is getting closer and closer to his second overall victory in the Tour de France. When the American Sepp Kuss won, the 22-year-old Slovene sovereignly controlled the field of favorites on the 15th stage on Sunday, without launching his own furious attack like in the Alps. The German professional cyclists around Emanuel Buchmann remained pale again on the 191.3 kilometers from Céret to Andorra la Vella and had nothing to do with the day’s victory.
The man in yellow countered all attacks
On the way to the steep Col de Beixalis, from the summit of which it was still 15 kilometers downhill to the finish, the pursuers Rigoberto Uran (Colombia), Richard Carapaz (Ecuador) and Jonas Vingegaard (Denmark) tried several courageous attacks, but the man in yellow countered all attacks without problems. At the top, Jumbo Visma professional Kuss drove to a hard-fought victory, which even the 41-year-old veteran Alejandro Valverde could no longer prevent with his skills in the downhill. Before the finish line, Kuss threw his sunglasses into the audience with joy.
It became clear early in the day that Pogacar and Co. had nothing to do with the day’s win this time. In a top group of 32 there were numerous top teams and top drivers such as world champion Julian Alaphilippe and all-rounder Wout van Aert, but not a single overall classification driver who could have been dangerous to the yellow bearer if he had too much of a lead.
The Germans, who hope for a second coup after the furious victory of the day by Nils Politt, were also not represented. The former fourth overall Buchmann had already announced that morning that he was pursuing other goals on the way to Andorra. “I hope that I’ll be really fit again after the day off. I want to be by Wilco’s side as long as possible, ”said Buchmann. If the lightweight is still aiming for a day’s victory, it should succeed in the final week. There was good news: Tony Martin, who had fallen badly and was still injured, resumed training on Sunday.
Short break on the rest day
After the turbulent and hot start-up in the Pyrenees, regeneration is now the order of the day. The rest day in Andorra will give the peloton a short break before it gets really difficult again on Wednesday and Thursday. The two mountain arrivals at Col du Portet and in Luz Ardiden are among the most demanding stages of the 108th edition of the tour. Pogacar’s lead paired with his extremely strong condition should make the champion unassailable, but the other two podium places in Paris remain in great demand.
On Saturday the favorites had been able to take it easy on the way to Quillan, the profile was rather hilly and made for outliers. Man of the day was the Dutchman Bauke Mollema, who crowned a solo with victory. “I thought I would try well before the finish line. It was very tough, but now I’m pretty happy, ”said Mollema. Second place went to the Austrian Patrick Konrad, Guillaume Martin had improved to second overall behind Pogacar. But that did not last long, the Frenchman lost his position again on the way to Andorra.