Tadej Pogacar storms time-trial as Mathieu van der Poel clings to Tour de France lead
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LAVAL – Defending champion Tadej Pogacar stormed the Tour de France individual time-trial on Wednesday while Mathieu van der Poel clung on to the overall lead after stage five.
Van der Poel kept hold of his yellow jersey by just eight seconds while Ineos pair Geraint Thomas and Richard Carapaz lost more than a minute on Slovenia's Pogacar, who is now second in the overall standings.
Ahead of the 27.2km run Pogacar described the stage as critical to his chances of defending the title he won in 2020 and the manner in which he raced Wednesday backed up the statement.
Van der Poel also vowed to defend the yellow jersey in the against-the-clock discipline that is not his strongest, reaching beyond expectations to do so on his debut Tour.
"This was the best day of my career, we didn't think I could keep the jersey today but we worked well past midnight last night in preparing it all," said Van der Poel, who had a tailored yellow one-piece suit on.
Van der Poel will likely keep the jersey a few days longer with two flat stages to come.
On a day when the spectator who caused a mass crash of riders on stage one was arrested by French police, there were thousands of roadside fans infringing onto the route to cheer Van der Poel on as the tension mounted towards the finish line.