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Tadej Pogacar sealed the king of the mountains jersey and consolidated his dominance of this year's Tour de France with a second successive stage win.

Defending champion Pogacar stormed to victory up the Col du Portet on Wednesday and, a day later, he was charging clear of nearest general classification rivals Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) to clinch another summit success.

On the final mountain stage before the Tour rolls towards Paris, UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar was in a four-man breakaway with around 700 metres to go, and it was at that stage he made his move.

With Movistar's Enric Mas having run out of gas, Pogacar propelled himself through into the final part of the second hors categorie climb of Thursday's 129km route through the Pyrenees.

Pogacar was able to enjoy his win as he went over the line, with Vingegaard nipping ahead of Carapaz into second place – another repeat from Wednesday.

With the Luz Ardiden climb the final mountain of this year's Tour, Pogacar also won the race for the polka-dot jersey, taking it from Wouter Poels.

It capped a troubling day for Bahrain Victorious, whose team hotel and coach was raided by French police.

The only chance of Pogacar letting his grasp on the yellow jersey slip will come in Saturday's time trial. The equivalent stage last year saw Primoz Roglic lose his lead to Pogacar, who will almost certainly win the general classification, mountains classification, and young rider's classification for the second straight year.

"Why should I be worried, sometimes you can have a really bad day on a TT, let's hope it’s not a repeat," said Pogacar, who is only the fourth rider to win consecutive summit finishes at the Tour

"It was a game for me since I started, I'm enjoying playing it."

The day's intermediary sprint gave Mark Cavendish cause for celebration, as he took 11 points with a fifth-place finish, seeing Michael Matthews lose ground in the hunt for the green jersey.

Cavendish, and his Deceuninck–Quick-Step team-mates, coasted over the line with six minutes to spare before the time cut off, and will now aim for a record-setting win on Friday.

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 75:00:22
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:45
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:51

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 298
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 260
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 208

King of the Mountains

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 107
2. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 88
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 82

What's next?

A 207km rolling route follows on Friday, which should result in a sprint finish in Libourne – Cavendish is the rider to watch, as he looks to make it 35 stage victories at the Tour de France.

French police carried out searches as they targeted the Bahrain Victorious team in Pau ahead of stage 18 of the Tour de France.

The reason for the raid on the team hotel has not been announced.

Team chiefs confirmed officers requested training information and searched rooms of the cyclists.

A Bahrain Victorious statement read: "On the eve of stage 18 of Tour de France, Team Bahrain Victorious were subject to an investigation by French police. The team were monitored by a number of officers following their arrival after stage 17 to the team hotel in Pau.

"The investigation involved a search of riders' rooms as part of the process. Despite being unaware of the investigation reasons, the team was also requested to provide all training files which were compiled and presented to the officers as requested."

Technical director Vladimir Miholjevic stressed there had been no wrongdoing on the part of the team and said the police action had been a disruption to planning for Thursday's stage.

He said: "Following stage 17, we were greeted by several French police officers. We were not given a warrant to read through, but the team complied with all the officers' requests.

"We are committed to highest level of professionalism and adherence to all regulatory requirements and will always be cooperating in a professional manner.

"The process had impacted our riders' recovery and meal planning and as a professional team, the well being of our team is a key priority."

 

The team's highest-ranking rider overall in this year's tour is Peio Bilbao, who sat 10th in the individual general classification going into Thursday's journey from Pau to Luz Ardiden.

Wouter Poels held top spot in the king of the mountains rankings, while Sonny Colbrelli was third in the points standings.

Bahrain Victorious, who had stage wins earlier in the Tour by Matej Mohoric and Dylan Teuns, stood collectively in first place in the team classification.

Tadej Pogacar took another giant leap towards defending his Tour de France title with victory up the Col du Portet on stage 17.

The UAE Team Emirates rider benefited from excellent work by his team-mates on the brutal 178.4 kilometre route, which started in Muret.

Rafal Majka in particular was worthy of great praise in aiding the cause of Pogacar, setting the Slovenian up brilliantly to push for the stage win on the final hors categorie climb.

Anthony Perez, the lone man remaining from the breakaway, was reeled in on the last of the three ascents with 8.5km remaining.

It was Pogacar, Jumbo-Visma's Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz of INEOS Grenadiers, who emerged as the frontrunners for the stage.

Despite dealing with gradients of 13 per cent, Pogacar always looked comfortable and there was never any doubt he would respond when Carapaz attacked 1.5km from a finish 2,215km above sea level, the highest of this year's Tour de France.

There was an element of surprise to that move, Carapaz having done little to help Pogacar and Vingegaard manage the climb while looking on the verge of being dropped.

But Pogacar called his bluff and it was he who clearly had the most left in the tank, surging clear in the final 200 metres to claim his second stage win of this year's Tour.

His lead at the top of the general classification stands at five minutes and 39 seconds from Vingegaard with three stages left before the final processional ride to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday.

STAGE RESULT

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 5:03:31
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:03
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +0:04
4. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) +:1:19
5. Ben O'Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +1:26

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 71:26:27
2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:39
3. Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) +5:43

Points Classification

1. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 287
2. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) 251
3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) 201

King of the Mountains

1. Wouter Poels (Bahrain Victorious) 78
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 67
3. Nairo Quintana (Arkea-Samsic) 66

What's next?

Does Pogacar have enough left in his legs for another hors categorie finish. The penultimate and final ascents are on the 129.7km ride from Pau to Luz Ardiden are each HC climbs as the Tour sees it's final mountain stage of 2021.

Given his lead in the GC, Pogacar does not need to make such an effort, but he might have the appetite for another win to emphasise his dominance on stage 18.

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