The Race against time

Tadej Pogacar attacked near the top of the first big mountain pass of the Tour de France and extended his lead during the twisty, high-speed descent to take back the yellow jersey on Tuesday.

Two-time defending champion Jonas Vingegaard did his best to limit the damage but finished 37 seconds behind on stage four. The race crossed back into France after the opening stages in Italy.

The climb to the 2,642-meter (8,668-foot) Col du Galibier met expectations as the Tour’s first decisive point.

“This was more or less the plan and we executed it truly well,” Pogacar said after his 12th career stage win at the Tour. “I wanted to hit hard today. I know this stage really well. I’ve been training here many days. It felt like a home stage.

“I had confidence in the start, I had good legs, and I had to try it. I know the downhill but I was a little bit surprised to see wet road in the first few corners. So it was a little bit scar

The roads were slick from melting snow banks.

Previous leader Richard Carapaz was dropped on the Galibier.

Tour rookie Remco Evenepoel, the Spanish Vuelta and world champion in 2022, crossed second in the stage, 35 seconds behind Pogacar. Juan Ayuso, Pogacar’s UAE teammate, finished third with the same time.

Primoz Roglic crossed fourth and Vingegaard fifth.

Overall, Pogacar led Evenepoel by 45 seconds and Vingegaard by 50 seconds.

With Pogacar’s UAE Team Emirates squad setting a fast pace on the climb, only Vingegaard and a handful of other riders were able to keep up toward the top of the Galibier.

Then Pogacar attacked with 800 meters (yards) to go and created about a 10-second advantage over Vingegaard at the summit. There were about 20 kilometers of descending to the finish and Pogacar extended his lead over the more cautious Vingegaard, who suffered a high-speed crash in April, breaking his collarbone and ribs and leaving him with a collapsed lung.

Vingegaard was second at the summit and Evenepoel was third.

At the finish line, Pogacar had plenty of time to pound his chest and raise his fists in celebration.

Pogacar, who also wore yellow after Stage 2, is aiming for the rare Giro d’Italia-Tour double after dominating the Italian Grand Tour in May. He’s also aiming for his third Tour title after wins in 2020 and 2021. He was runner-up to Vingegaard the last two years.

The last rider to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year was Marco Pantani in 1998.

The route from Pinerolo, Italy, to Valloire was relatively short at 140 kilometers (87 miles) but with two category two climbs to Sestriere and Montgenevre before the grueling ascent to the Galibier, it marked the first true test of the Tour.

The Galibier — the first “hors catégorie” (beyond category) climb this year — lasted 23 kilometers (14 miles) at an average gradient of 5.1%. The hardest parts came near the summit, where the road tilted upward to a gradient of nearly 10%.