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Gallery: Nobody was beating Tadej Pogacar on Stage 17

Will Strickson
15 Jul 2021

The maillot jaune reigned supreme as Carapaz played games and Vingegaard rode for second on top of the Col du Portet

Everyone loves an underdog. After cheering him up La Planche des Belles Filles last year it's been tough to support Tadej Pogačar at this year's Tour de France as he's dominated the competition and only showed apparent weakness for 30 seconds on Mont Ventoux.

But Stage 17 of the Tour de France saw an impassioned champion reign supreme and it was incredible to watch.

With his UAE Team Emirates domestiques putting up their best display of the Tour by a long chalk – energy levels probably helped by not controlling the peloton for two weeks – most of the bunch were dropped and the breakaway caught by the time Rafał Majka peeled off.

Pogačar then upped the pace and saw off most of the top 10 including second placed Rigoberto Urán leaving just Jumbo Visma's Jonas Vingegaard and Ineos Grenadiers' Richard Caparaz.

As our heroes ascended through the fog of the climb last seen with Geraint Thomas and an F1 grid system, jerseys yellow and white traded turns on the front while El Jaguar sat on, grimace wide and tactics engaged.

Every time Pogačar came to the front he increased the speed once more to try to shake off Carapaz, but he remained glued to their wheel. He was not going anywhere... until he attacked himself, leaving Vingegaard in the dust but only motivating our leader past the point of no return.

Due to those games – which we very much enjoyed – Carapaz's effort was doomed. He was never going to win in a sprint and was forced to pull, in search of precious seconds over Vingegaard on GC, only for Vingegaard to claw his way back anyway and go around the Ecuadorian while Pogačar launched to the summit.

Pure Pogi passion ensued on the line, clutching at the team logo on his jersey, roaring with delight. He had secured the win on the best stage of the Tour so far on the one day that sports director and mentor Allan Peiper could be in France.

It's also worth shouting out a fantastic effort from David Gaudu, who finished fourth on the stage, the best Frenchman on Bastille Day and after a tough illness-hit Tour he showed he deserves to be with the top favourites.

Here's some of the best images of the day courtesy of Cyclist's photographer Chris Auld: