Tadej Pogacar won the last mountain stage of the Tour de France on Thursday to get closer to a second consecutive title.

The short trip in the Pyrenees included a grueling series of the Col de Tourmalet and a brutal climb to the ski resort Luz-Ardiden, two classics of the Grande Boucle.

Pogacar’s main rivals were unable to take advantage of this ruthless journey. The defending champion dropped a small group of four riders with about a mile to go. After Eric Mas’s attack, Pogacar retaliated and left Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz in his wake. He thus signed his third stage victory this year, and his second in a row in mountainous terrain.

Ontarian Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) finished in 41st place at 8:58 from Pogacar, while Quebecers Hugo Houle (Astana) and Guillaume Boivin (Israel Start-Up Nation) followed at the 55th and 83rd ranks. .

Barring a disaster, the 22-year-old cyclist from the UAE Team Emirates should be crowned Tour de France champion for a second year in a row on Sunday on the Champs-Élysées.

“It’s amazing, it’s crazy,” said Pogacar. It’s been a game for me since I started [ma carrière], and I really enjoy playing it. “

Before the big ceremony, however, there remains a difficult stage to negotiate – a time trial between the Bordeaux vineyards which must be presented on Saturday. Pogacar excels in this specialty, and he won the first time trial of the Tour de France this year.

Pogacar has an impressive cushion of five minutes and 45 seconds ahead of Vingegaard in the general classification. Carapaz is in third place, at 5:51.

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“There are still three days left, but it’s looking good,” admitted Pogacar.

Woods follows in 27th place, ahead of Houle, 62nd, and Boivin, 106th.

A search of Bahrain Victorious

The day was clouded by the news about the Bahrain Victorious team, which received a visit from French gendarmes as part of a sports doping investigation, according to representatives of French justice and police.

The team confirmed in a statement that the cyclists’ hotel rooms had been searched in Pau, in southwestern France.

By means of a statement sent to the Associated Press, the Marseille prosecutor’s office indicated that a preliminary investigation targeting the members of the team had been opened on July 3 “for purchase, transport, possession, importation of a substance. or a method prohibited by an athlete without valid medical reason ”.

Pau justice officials confirmed that “legal gestures” had taken place at the team’s hotel, without offering further details.

About 25 agents from the Central Office for Combating Environmental and Public Health Attacks (OCLAESP) were involved in the search, police said.

“We were greeted by several French gendarmes. We could not read the search warrant, but the team accepted the request of the gendarmes, said technical director Vladimir Miholjevic. The search affected the recovery plan as well as the supper of our runners, and as a professional team the well-being of our athletes is our priority. “

Before Thursday’s stage in the Pyrenees, Spaniard Peio Bilbao was the team’s best overall rider, nearly 13 minutes behind Tour de France leader Tadej Pogacar.

Team leader Jack Haig fell early in the competition and broke his collarbone. The other seven cyclists of the Bahrain Victorious team are still involved in the Grande Boucle, and they are doing very well, with two stage victories so far.

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Slovenian Matej Mohoric scored his first stage victory after a long breakaway in the seventh round of the Tour de France, while Dylan Teuns stood out in the French Alps. In addition, Wouter Poels has the polka dot jersey awarded to the best climber of the Grande Boucle, ahead of Pogacar.

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