Pogacar wins again on giant Tour de France mountain

Saint-Lary-Soulan (France) (AFP) –


Tadej Pogacar extended his lead by winning stage 17 of the Tour de France on Wednesday atop Pyrenean giant the Col du Portet, where he was followed over the line by Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz after the three played out an epic struggle.

Ecuadorian Carapaz launched a blistering attack 1.5km from the 2,200m summit finish, but was reeled in by Pogacar.

The Slovenian champion took his second victory on this Tour to extend his five-and-a-half minutes lead over the surprising Dane Vingegaard. Carapaz climbed to third overall after Rigobert Uran was dropped on the hillside.

"It was the most difficult stage of the Tour, and I dedicate this win to my team who worked so hard for me here," said Pogacar.

On the French national holiday of Bastille Day, FDJ's French rider David Gaudu came fourth at a finish line above the clouds in this remote bear inhabited corner of France.

French team AG2R saw their Australian podium hope Ben O'Connor consolidate fifth overall as he rounded out the day's top five.

AG2R boss Vincent Lavenu told AFP that the stage, with 36km of steep climbing on the final section, was a "race for second place and that half the pretenders will be dropped here."

It proved to be so, but Ineos man Carapaz, who looked to be struggling after the lead trio broke off from the pretenders 8km from home, kept fighting with his late but fruitless burst

One last mountaintop finish awaits the riders Thursday before Saturday's potentially decisive time-trial and Sunday's parade into Paris.