Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) took a second consecutive stage win on stage 7 of the 2022 Tour de France, narrowly beating 2021 rival Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) in a punishing sprint to the line.
The remains of the early breakaway – including Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious), winner on the same finish in 2019 – lasted until the Super Planche des Belles Filles (7 km at 8.5%), the first summit finish of the race. Meanwhile in the peloton, UAE Team Emirates took back control from the Ineos Grenadiers who had laid on the pressure on the approach to the climb.
The last riders to survive from the breakaway were Simon Geschke (Cofidis) and Giro superhero Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe), who’d had the help of teammate Maximilian Schachmann in the day’s escape. With the peloton a little over a minute further down the hill, the younger German cracked his compatriot and went solo at the 5 km-to-go mark.
However, Pogačar was sitting ominously in third wheel, his teammates leading the shrinking GC group, Thibaut Pinot, Ben O’Connor, Jakob Fuglsang, Alexandr Vlasov and second-overall Neilson Powless among those in trouble on the first Cat. 1 climb of the 2022 Tour.
Lone leader Kämna carried about half a minute under the flamme rouge and onto the gravel – more like thick dust – and at the same point behind him, Pogačar was released. Jonas Vingegaard, Primož Roglic, Geraint Thomas and Romain Bardet jumping straight on his wheel as the remaining challengers grovelled through the thickening air.
The now five-man GC group was gaining on Kämna fast, and it was Vingegaard who forced the move, accelerating past the yellow jersey as they rounded the last righthand bend to the finish. Pogačar was the only one who could follow, the arch-rivals overhauling Kämna barely 50 meters from home, and charging upwards in a slow-motion sprint, mano a mano.
For half a second it looked like Pogačar might not come past Vingegaard, but he just edged his 2021 rival to take back-to-back stage wins.
It goes to show just how close Kämna came to adding a second Tour stage win to his palmarès that he finished just off the podium, Roglič finishing third 12 seconds behind the winner and his teammate Vingegaard, who moves up to second, 35 seconds off the yellow jersey. Geraint Thomas was the best of the rest, coming in alongside Kämna and moving up to third overall.
Tour de France (2.UWT)
Tomblaine → La Super Planche des Belles Filles