Dubai: UAE Team Emirates shone bright on the world stage as young Tadej Pogacar clinched Stage 9 of the Tour de France late on Sunday.
An incredible performance on the last Pyrenees stage of the Tour saw the 21-year-old and Tour de France debutant Pogacar win his first career Tour stage by the barest of margins to claim a pride of place in the annals of cycling history.
The Slovenian won the 153km ninth stage from Pau-Laurns of the Grande Boucle by outsprinting a group containing Jumbo-Visma rider Primoz Roglic alongside Sunweb’s Marc Hirschi, defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos-Grenadiers) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) to become the youngest Tour stage winner of the 21st century.
It was Hirschi leading the race for 80km moving four minutes clear of the main group of contenders. At one point, Hirschi had looked to be headed to an outright win, but a series of accelerations from Pogacar saw the quintet of riders catch him with 2km to go ahead of the flat sprint to the finish.
Pogacar then timed his sprint to perfection and snatched the first Tour Stage win of his career ahead of fellow Slovenian Roglic by the circumference of a wheel.
Roglic took second place and subsequently the yellow jersey as he became the new overall leader of the Tour. Pogacar climbed another two positions in the General Classification and now sits just 44 seconds behind him in seventh place.
“It is incredible to have won at the end of such a hectic day. Firstly, I thank the team for the excellent work done throughout the stage. I am very happy. In the final sprint, my goal was to recover as many seconds as possible in the general classification, while also aiming for bonuses,” Pogacar said after his fine win.
“But the concentration was then turned to the sprint and I don’t remember exactly how I won the sprint, I just thought about pushing as hard as possible, and finally it all came together,” he added.
The UAE Team Emirates have been one of the show-stoppers of the Tour de France this year with Norwegian Alexander Kristoff becoming the first rider to ever win a stage (Stage One) of the major race for the Abu Dhabi-based team. “I am happy with what we have done so far in this Tour, with only one off-day on the seventh stage,” Pogacar said.
Monday will be the first rest day for the teams before attention turns to Tuesday’s Stage 10 – a flat trip from Ile de l’Oleron to Ile de Re over 168.5 kms.
Stage 9 Results
1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 3h55’17”
2. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) ST
3. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) ST
1. Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) 38h40’01"
2. Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) +21s
3. Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) +28s
7. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) +44s