GRAND COLOMBIER, France (AP) — Tadej Pogacar won Stage 15 of the Tour de France on a brutal final climb Sunday as his fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic retained the yellow jersey and last year’s winner Egan Bernal dropped out of contention.
Pogacar powered past Roglic on the final sprint at the top of Grand Colombier for his second stage win. Roglic leads Pogacar by 40 seconds overall, down from 44 seconds before the stage.
Last year’s winner Bernal dropped off the lead group on the long Grand Colombier climb and appeared to lose his chance of retaining the title as he dropped to 13th overall, 8 minutes 25 seconds off the yellow jersey.
As the long climb from the Rhone valley to the finish at the top of the Grand Colombier pass began, Roglic’s Jumbo-Visma team had five riders including the Slovenian in the peloton. They worked well together on the climb to protect Roglic and force a pace that put pressure on his rivals.
In a year in which the Tour has turned into a battle between Slovenian and Colombian riders, on Sunday the Slovenians clearly had the upper hand in the Jura mountains.
Colombian rider Bernal’s struggles on the climb all but ensure the end of a five-year streak of Tour victories by his Ineos Grenadiers team, formerly known as Team Sky. Another Colombian contender for the yellow jersey, Nairo Quintana, started the day fifth but also dropped back on Grand Colombier and is ninth, 5 minutes 8 seconds off the lead.
Restrictions introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic were supposed to ensure that fans were restricted to the flatter sections and foothills and weren’t allowed to throng the narrow approaches to the summit finish. However, there were still some cheering and waving flags near the top.
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