Slovenia's Tadej Pogačar second at Tour de France
Paris, 23 July - Slovenian rider Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) has finished the 2023 Tour de France in second place, having had to concede to Dane Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), just as he did in 2022 after winning the most prestigious road cycling race in 2020 and 2021.
The two favourites for victory had a close battle for practically two weeks until Pogačar had a really bad day during the 165.7km stage 17 between Saint-Gervais and Courchevel on Wednesday, losing more than five minutes to the Dane.
As riders arrived in Paris this evening, Vingegaard was 7:29 minutes ahead of Pogačar, with Pogačar's British teammate Adam Yates coming in third overall with 10:56 minutes behind the winner.
Pogačar won two stages, on Saturday from Belfort to Le Markstein (133.5km) and on 6 July from Tabres to Cauterets-Cambasque (144.9km) for a total of 11 stage wins in the four Tours he has participated in so far.
The Slovenian realised he would not win the general classification of this year's race after Wednesday's stage, but despite the big crisis he knew he would get back on his feet, saying everyone can have a bad day or week.
"I wasn't quite myself this last week. But [Saturday] I was like a kid on the bike again, really enjoying it," he told public broadcaster RTV Slovenija after yesterday's stage win, adding he "enjoyed the stage from the first to the last kilometre".
Back-to-back Tour winner Vingegaard said the race was "a crazy battle with Pogačar, which he thinks was interesting for both the spectators and riders. "I really appreciate this battle of two with Pogačar," he said on Saturday.
Pogačar, a 24-year-old who joined UAE Team Emirates in 2019, donned the white jersey for the best young cyclist at the Tour four times, from 2020 to 2023.
"The white jersey has really grown on me, because I've worn it practically every day for four years. But I'm no longer a little kid and it's time to say goodbye to it," he said on Sunday.
Another two Slovenians were at the 110th Tour; Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) won stage 19 on Friday, finishing 72nd overall, and Luka Mezgec (Jayco AlUla) faithfully helped Dutchman Dylan Groeneweg throughout the sprints for 112th place.
Slovenians riders have secured six overall victories at the three-week Grand Tour cycling races so far: apart from Pogačar, who won the Tour twice, Primož Roglič won the Giro d'Italia this year and La Vuelta in Spain three times (2019-2021).