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Tadej Bojjar (Emirates Team Emirates) won stage 6 of Tour de France In a grueling race at Longwy on a day that will be remembered for a long time due to Wout van Aert’s incessant attack but doomed to fail at the helm of the race.
The Jumbo-Visma man eventually ceded his yellow jersey to Pogačar, but only after he spent most of the day attacking at the helm of the race. Van Aert repeatedly split the field in the opening kilometres, last surviving the day’s break before he was finally caught and brought down by the peloton with 11km remaining.
Bogaard later split the leading group with an acceleration of his own on the Cote de Polventux with 5.5km remaining, and the UAE team started to reclaim late striker Alexis Voilerams (TotalEnergies) on the last approach of the streak.
Rafal Majka and Brandon McNulty led the front group 2km to the finish, and although Primo Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) opened up the race from distance, Bogar made a definite response, winning the stage from Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ).
A reward of 10 seconds for a stage win was enough to put Pogačar ahead of Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost) in the overall standings and in the yellow jersey. The American leads by 4secs, with Jonas Weinggaard (Jumbo-Visma) now in third with a time of 31secs.
Van Aert was the main aggressor during the fast opening stage, attacking non-stop as Peloton repeatedly split behind him, covering around 52.5km in the first hour of the race.
He eventually made his way with 148km remaining, bringing with him Quinn Simmons (Trek Segafredo) and Jacob Vogelsang (Israel’s tech prime minister), and Peloton seems to have accepted that there was no point in trying to reason with his swimsuit john when he was in that mood. .
His attack carried faint echoes of rival Mathieu van der Poel’s defense of yellow on the road to Le Creusot at last year’s Tour, although it was perhaps more reminiscent of Eddie Merckx’s aggression on the road to Marseille in 1971.
But that afternoon, Merckx’s boundless energy turned towards the obvious goal of trying to win back the yellow jersey from Luis Ocania. By contrast, Van Aert was already in the overall lead and is part of a team with two riders aiming for an overall final win. His attack didn’t make sense strategically, but he raced against all the logic designed to capture the viewer.
Not even a chain-slide on the Côte des Mazures and a bike change later could discourage Van Aert, who made the most progress in less than four minutes. He later earned full points in the middle race, but it was clear that his eyes were in big trouble rather than managing his big lead in the green jersey standings.
Bora-Hansgrohe, Alpecin-Deceuninck and EF Education-EasyPost combined to lead the chase in the rear, and up front, Volgsang sat 65km to launch, but Van Art and Simmons held two minutes as they entered the final 50km. The group pace rose after that, with German champion Nils Polit particularly effective, but Van Aert refused to be discouraged, loosening Simmons with 30km remaining.
The terrain is getting more rugged from here, yet Van Aert still maintains a 30sec advantage in the rear to the finish, even as the Ineos Grenadiers crowd in pursuit. It was finally restored after the fourth category of the Côte de Montigny-sur-Chiers with 11 kilometers remaining, and today’s spoils will fall on Pogačar.
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