Pogacar wins stage, extends Tour lead

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Tadej Pogacar has celebrated a Tour de France stage victory in yellow for a second day in a row and can surely soon start toasting a second consecutive title after another dominant display.

In a mirror image of Wednesday's finale, Pogacar raced clear of Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz in the final few hundred metres of the climb to Luz Ardiden as the top three came home in the same order as their positions in the overall standings.

The victory moved Pogacar to the top of the king of the mountains classification, putting him in line to arrive into Paris as the owner of three of the four race jerseys - yellow, the polka dots, and the best young rider's white - for a second year in a row.

It also made him only the fourth rider in Tour history to win on consecutive summit finishes.

Overall, Pogacar now has a massive advantage of five minutes, 45 seconds over Vingegaard with Carapaz in third place overall, a further six seconds behind.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran, fourth overall at the start, cracked in the penultimate ascent to the Col du Tourmalet to drop out of the top 10.

Australian Ben O'Connor is now fourth, 8min:18sec off the pace two days before Saturday's final individual time trial.

This Tour has claimed many victims, but even if the likes of Primoz Roglic or Geraint Thomas had avoided injury or incident, it is hard to imagine anyone being on the level that Pogacar has demonstrated day after day.

"(Cycling) has been a game for me since I started," the UAE Team Emirates rider said.

"It's one I'm really enjoying playing."

The Ineos Grenadiers bossed the Tour for most of the last decade as Team Sky, but with three days to go they have no victories in this race and no real hope of seeing Carapaz move up from third given Vingegaard's superior time trialling ability.

Knowing this was their last chance, they had worked to set up Carapaz for an attack on the final climb but the Ecuadorian could not find a gap.

The three leaders were joined in the final few kilometres by Enric Mas, the Movistar rider.

He attacked with 800m to go, but Pogacar responded to ease away from Vingegaard and Carapaz for his third stage win of the Tour.

"It's unbelievable," Pogacar said.

"After yesterday, I felt really good and I'm really happy with the win. It's crazy."

The 130km stage from Pau was the shortest road stage of this year's Tour, but back-ended by the hors categorie climbs of the Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden, also one of the toughest.

Friday's stage to Libourne is flat, an opportunity for Mark Cavendish to break Eddy Merckx's record of 34 Tour stage wins outright, before Saturday's time trial will bring the final changes to the overall standings.

But given Pogacar won the stage five time trial, the opportunities to dislodge him appear to have already gone.

"Why should I be worried?" he said.

"You can lose six minutes in a time trial, it's happened before, but I'm pretty confident."

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