GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN: Remco Evenepoel recovered from a scare to win a thrilling 25.3km stage seven time trial at the Tour de France on Friday as Tadej Pogacar dug deep to keep the overall leader’s yellow jersey.

It was a first Tour de France stage win for the 24-year-old Belgian time trial world champion who finished 12sec ahead of Pogacar, who was second on the day in the Burgundy vineyards.

Evenepoel was powering to a wider margin of victory but lost seconds after being startled by a sudden noise with three kilometers to go.

The Belgian at first thought he had a mechanical issue and bounced hard to test his bike and ensure he could continue.

“I thought, I had a problem, but in fact it was a noise from the crowd,” said Evenepoel of the Quick Step team.

“It was nothing really, but I lost four or five seconds.”

“The fans were great, and it was wonderful to hear them banging like that, it was madness, a dream come true.”

Veteran Primoz Roglic was third at 34sec and two-time defending champion Jonas Vingegaard fourth at 37sec.

The result left the ‘Fab Four’ of favorites in the top four positions after seven stages of the 21-day race which ends in Nice.

Pogacar holds a 33 seconds advantage on Evenepoel in the overall standings with Vingegaard third at 1min 15sec.

“I knew I was putting in a good time. My sports director was being super positive in my micro,” said Pogacar, who nevertheless looked glum at the finish line.

The 25-year-old Pogacar, who won the 2020 and 2021 Tours, is targeting the first Giro d’Italia-Tour double since Marco Pantani in 1998.

“It’s a long way to Nice, but if all goes well I should be alright for the final day,” he said.

“There’s not much to look forward to: stressful days.

“I can’t wait to get into the mountains.”

The four favorites sped down the starting ramp at Nuits-Saint-Georges within ten minutes of each other, making the finale a nail-biting edge of the seat affair.

At the raucous finish line, fans pounded on the barriers and cheered a see-saw struggle that panned out well for all four pretenders.

Evenepoel has now beaten Pogacar in all six time trials in which they have gone head-to-head.

Dane Vingegaard had beaten Pogacar in the last two time trials they faced off, but dropped time on the Slovenian on Friday.

As his reputation grows day by day on this Tour, Evenepoel looked ahead to Sunday’s stage, a 199km circuit through the Champagne region that includes 35km on gravel.

“I have gone over it twice. It’ll be stressful, long, nervy, you can’t quite win the Tour there, but you could lose it there with a bit of bad luck,” he said.

Before that, Saturday’s stage in a rolling 183km run through more wine growing regions where attacks from the lower ranks should shake things up.


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