Just when everyone thought the season was over for Wout van Aert, the Jumbo-Visma rider claimed the win of stage 8 on 9th July, Saturday. Van Aert gave a tough match to Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) to the finish line.
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The yellow jersey holder and winner of stages 6 and 7, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) came in third today. This means that he got a time bonus of 4 seconds, and now he leads over Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) with 39 seconds. Vingegaard finished in the 8th position today.
Talking about his spectacular sprint today, Van Aert said:
It was a pretty tough climb, 4.5k at 4%, with the flat part in between everything going uphill was really steep – I had to fight to stay on the wheel of Pogacar and his teammates
He further provided more details on his employed strategy:
I knew if I could stay on the wheel the sprint was a bit flatter, and I was waiting for that moment
Even Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) was seen struggling today, as the category 3 climb proved hard for him to ascend. But he managed to gain most points from the breakaway and will continue to hold the polka dots jersey. He holds one point over Pogačar.
With Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) bitting the dust, the real competitor for Van Aert is Pogačar. Gaining a lead over Pogačar will be quite tough as the 23-year-old is marked as the best rider of the tour, while Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) stands second to him.
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Pogacar met a crash, the second of the tour, but luckily escaped unscathed. Even though he lost, he was still in high spirits. Recalling the day’s events, he said:
I was in the middle of the crash. I hit the ground but not so much, it was one of the softest crashes I’ve ever experienced. It was for me nothing bad, we came back quite fast and for me, it was OK
How It Happened
The eighth stage was a new challenge in itself. At the heart of the anti-doping controls for cycling, in Switzerland, the 186.3-kilometer race began with the news of Vegard Stake Laengen, partner of Tadej Pogačar, being absent because of Covid-19. Geoffrey Bouchard (AG2R Citroën) also had to go home because of being Covid positive.
Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) ignited the breakaway, but soon chaos hit the track amidst a crash. Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) was hurt the most and had to withdraw from the race. Pogačar also fell, but luckily he was not injured.
Frederik Frison (Lotto Soudal), Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), and Mattia Cattaneo (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) battled three in between with a three-minute lead over the peloton. Nathan Van Hooydonck kept the gap open for Wout Van Aert.
Summing down to 8.4 km, the battle was intense as Pogačar and Majka headed uphill. Many riders fell out on the climb, but the favorites remained. It all came down on 5 riders in the end. Majka was up in front of Pogacar, Vingegaard, and Van Aert. With just 300 m, Matthews launched a sprint to try and take victory, but Van Aert had decided already that it was going to be his day today. He sprung up his speed and finished before Matthews, taking the win home.
Results[table “15” not found /]
Featured Image Via YouTube/ EUROSPORT