The kid from Slovenia is the defending Tour de France champion for a reason. Tadej Pogacar rode to a stupendous victory in Stage 17 of the Tour de France during the most difficult stage in this year’s Le Tour with a summit finish in the fog at the legendary Col du Portet.

Tadej Pogacar Le Tour de France Stage 17 Col du Porter
Tadej Pogacar wins the toughest stage in the 2021 Tour de France with an impressive finish in Stage 17. (Image: Christophe Petit-Tesson/EPA)

Pogacar held off Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and a last-ditch attack from Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) to win Stage 17, which had a hellacious 10% gradient on the ascent of Col du Portet.

Frenchman David Gaudu tried to win the stage on Bastille Day, but it wasn’t meant to be. Gaudu had an impressive ride nonetheless, but settled on fourth overall in Stage 17, 79 seconds behind Pogacar.

2021 Tour de France – Stage 17 Results
  1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 5:03:31
  2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +00:03
  3. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +00:04

Pogacar secured his second stage win this year. He won the first time trial in Stage 5, which put him into second overall in the GC. Pogacar grabbed the leader’s yellow jersey for the first time after Stage 8 in the Alps. He’s held on to the yellow jersey for 11 days now and doesn’t look like he’ll relinquish it any time soon.

Stage 17: Muret > Saint Lary-Soulan Col du Portet

The GC contenders attacked the chase group about halfway up the ascent of Col du Portet with about 8 km to go. The trio of Pogacar, Vingegaard, and Carapaz caught the chase pack and quickly dropped them.

It was a three-man race for the stage win. Whenever someone attacked, the other two countered. Pogacar attempted a couple of attacks as a spooky fog rolled in as they slowly climbed Col du Portet Vingegaard and Carapaz kept pace, but Carapaz looked gassed.

“The three of us went clear, but only me and Jonas worked together,” said Pogacar. “I tried a couple of times to go clear – more time is better. But they were really good today. In the end I just sprint for the last 50 meters and it was enough.”

Carapaz made a move with 1.5 km to go and attacked just before the three reached an avalanche tunnel. It looked like Vingegaard, who was the last of the three to enter the tunnel, got dropped as Carapaz led coming out of the tunnel with Pogacar tight on his wheel.

Vingegaard rallied though, catching up to Carapaz and Pogacar with 200 meters remaining. Pogacar orchestrated a decisive final attack with one major push — an uphill sprint to the summit of Col du Portet, which sits 2,200 meters above sea level. Pogacar won Stage 17, while Vingegaard took second. The Dane passed Carapaz, who took third.

On Deck Stage 18: Pau > Luz Ardiden

The peloton faces one more mountain stage on Thursday before they finally escape the Pyrenees. Stage 18 is somewhat short with a 129.7 km ride from Pau to Luz Ardiden. The route starts with a couple of punchy Category 4 climbs, but ends with a pair of Category HC climbs, including the renowned Col du Tourmalet before an insane 13km ascent and a summit finish at Luz Ardiden.

2021 Le Tour – Overall GC Standings
  1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 71:26:27
  2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:39
  3. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +5:43
  4. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) +7:17
  5. Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +7:34

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) moved up in the overall general classification standings, while Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo) finished in ninth in Stage 17, slipping to fourth place overall. Uran now trails Pogacar by 7:17.

Pogacar actually padded his lead thanks to the time bonus he earned for winning Stage 17. Vingegaard trails by 5:39 in second, and Carapaz sits 5:43 off the lead in third place. With first place locked up, it’s a battle for the second spot on the podium in Paris with a second-place joust between Carapaz and Vingegaard in the final four stages.

Pogacar is now -5000 odds to win the yellow jersey for the second year in a row. Vingegaard saw his odds drop to +2500 and Carapaz slipped to +4000 odds.

Check out all our coverage of the 2021 Tour de France.