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TOUR DE FRANCE Stage 16: Appetizer Of Frustration For Pogacar

Vingegaard smugly stopped all three of his rival's attacks at the Port de Lens, the first in the Pyrenees, and the Slovenian did not try again at the Mur de Peguere. Houle's victory. Enric Mas leaves the Top 10.

If it were the feelings that spoke, Jonas Vingegaard would be crowned on Sunday as the brand new winner of his first Tour. The Dane, an ice man, does not tremble in the face of Tadej Pogacar's fire, nor half a second of doubt in the face of the increasingly desperate attacks of his rival. At the Pyrenees aperitif, where the Canadian Hugo Houle culminated the day's solo escape at the Foix finish line, the Slovenian's pyrotechnics turned into pure frustration.

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It is true that the main dishes come Wednesday and Thursday , without time to think too much, that the Pyrenees still have everything to say and that Pogacar is insatiable and will try until he faints, perhaps even suicide. But in the third scenario for the comeback, a script was repeated, hacks that did not bear fruit. A novelty was even introduced: Tadej did not try again on the second big climb of the day, in which he was closer to the finish line. "Each attack that I am able to nullify brings me closer to the Tour", pronounces the yellow.

In the Mur de Peguere the Slovenian gave up. Only he knows if due to lack of strength. "They had Van Aert at the front, so it wasn't really the point of attacking the last five kilometers of the climb", he was honest, shortly before learning that he had lost another of his pawns. Marc Soler, sick, got out of control.

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Before, by land, sea and air, his desire to come back had not been long in coming. He seeks surprise, he seeks weariness, he seeks what seems impossible, to get rid of his own shadow. In the Port de Lens, the first important of the Pyrenean triptych that was inaugurated this Tuesday from Carcassonne, Pogacar, as planned, could not take it anymore.

The stage progressed with the game ahead, a numerous breakaway in which Vlasov's incursion drew attention, who with more than eight minutes of distance became virtual second overall. The Bora player was going to be the great beneficiary of the day, in contrast to another new stage to forget about Enric Mas. The Russian is already sixth, fully involved in the fight for a podium from which the Spaniard definitively said goodbye.

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The Jumbo was losing men -in the middle of the port, Sepp Kuss barely had left the leader-, but also the UAE. Both with people ahead, all the tactics on the board. But, disconcerted, he had taken the opportunity to make his first move on the Tour. He went out together with Verona and Gregor Mühlberger, got a minute away, and for a moment it seemed that he was going to achieve something. Until Pogacar started.

Then, four kilometers from the top, a shooting broke out. Only Vingegaard could answer him in the first person, again with a smug impression. They stopped, regrouped, and Tadej charged again. Again no luck. The third acceleration came when the descent began, but the Dane did not give him a meter. Neither up nor down.

And then, as if a lion had been injected with a sleeping pill, calm came. Majka tried to make another pick on Peguere but broke the chain. In contrast, it was Kuss's pace that left no one wanting. On the way down, all the roosters except Bardet, Yates, Pidcock and Enric Mas regrouped, Nairo Quintana included. The silent Geraint Thomas is still less than three minutes behind yellow. "We always start the stages with a defined strategy, and today we have fulfilled it from beginning to end", Van Aert congratulated himself.

Houle had won third last week at Saint Etienne, the second Canadian win in Tour history 34 years after Steve Bauer. He attacked in the last port and his teammate and compatriot Michael Woods and Movistar Jorgenson tried to catch him. Until the American fell in a curve in the pursuit going down, that until then the Spanish team has bad luck.

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