Pogacar claims Tour de France lead


Tadej Pogacar claimed the Tour de France overall lead with a late attack in Sunday's second stage, though the Slovenian may have been surprised by how easily defending champion Jonas Vingegaard followed him despite his recent lack of racing.

While the 2020 and 2021 Tour winner's lightning attack on the ascent of San Luca left fellow favourites Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel seemingly glued to the road, Vingegaard had no trouble keeping up despite entering the race having not competed since he sustained a collapsed lung in a crash almost three months ago.

"Jonas was on my wheel, we can see he's already in great shape. It's going to be very interesting," said Pogacar, who is looking to become the first rider to win the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in the same year since the late Marco Pantani in 1998.

While Pogacar will be hoping not to fade over the three weeks of the race after riding the Giro in May, Vingegaard is looking to improve and keep some freshness for the final week.

Tour debutant Kevin Vauquelin was the second French winner in the first two days after being the best of the breakaway in the ascent to San Luca (1.9km at 10.6 per cent) as he gave his Arkea-B&B Hotels team their first win in the race.

Romain Bardet, who started the day in the leader's yellow jersey, finished 21 seconds behind Pogacar to lose the overall lead by six seconds while Evenepoel eventually managed to bridge the gap with Vingegaard and his rival.

"There was a little gap in the middle of the climb and I was not well positioned, my bad, " said Evenepoel, who had Ecuador's Richard Carapaz in his slipstream as he battled back to avoid any losses.

Overall, Pogacar leads Belgian Evenepoel and Vingegaard of Denmark, who are second and third, respectively, on added places with no time difference. Roglic is now 21 seconds down on Pogacar.

Monday's third stage, a 230.8-km ride between Piacenza and Turin, is expected to favour the sprint specialists.

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