Olympic city sees stage 8 showdown at Tour de France 2022

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Defending champion Tadej Pogacar said on Saturday he fears Covid could wreak havoc on this year’s Tour de France after the Slovenian tightened his grip on the leader’s yellow jersey after stage eight.

Belgian rider Wout van Aert sprinted to victory in the Covid-hit stage in Lausanne with Pogacar finishing third.

The peloton left Dole in the Jura under cloud after Norwegian Vegard Stake Laengen of Pogacar’s United Arab Emirates team and Frenchman Geoffrey Bouchard of AG2R tested positive and were withdrawn.

Pogacar admitted the outbreak was a real concern and speculated that roadside fans shouting encouragement could be a vector for the virus.

“It’s a big scare, the pandemic is still here with us, and we can’t risk running with it,” said the 23-year-old two-time defending champion.

“We get tested every other day or so, but Vegard got sick overnight, really, it’s worrying. All the fans piled up on the side of the road and shouted, sometimes you think it’s maybe -be a source,” he continued.

“It’s the train of our team,” continued the Slovenian from Stake Laengen.

“The big guy taking us, but I think we can get to Paris without him.”

Team Jumbo’s Van Aert won on a late incline ahead of Australian favorite Michael Matthews with Pogacar close behind.

It was a second stage win for van Aert, who also finished third on three occasions at the opening stages in Denmark, and extends his lead in the sprint points standings to 264 points ahead of Quick Step’s Fabio Jakobsen. with 149 and Pogacar, 128.

Van Aert’s main rival, Mathieu van der Poel, fell to the back of the peloton before the attack.

“It would have been more prestigious to beat Mathieu too, but I can only beat who is there,” said van Aert, who alongside Pogacar is the big star of this Tour de France 2022.

Bonus Pogacar

Pogacar also took a four-second bonus for third place and extended his overall lead over Jonas Vingaard at the top of the standings to 39 seconds.

After the Covid withdrawals, roadside fans cheered on the peloton on the way to the Swiss border where they caught a glimpse of what was to come with the Alpine mountains looming on the horizon.

An early fall caught Pogacar and third-placed Geraint Thomas, while French mountaineer Thibaut Pinot not only fell twice but also took a smack on the nose when a roadside food bag dispenser swung is deceived.

Denmark’s Magnus Cort Nielsen of the EF team will again contest the ninth stage with the polka dot jersey, while Tom Pidcock of Ineos will wear the white under-26 jersey, but in second place behind Pogacar.

Sunday’s ninth stage goes from Aigle to Châtel les Portes du Soleil, an alpine resort on the Franco-Swiss border, with more than 40 km of elevation gain on a 192 km route.

It reaches a high point of 1778m at the top of the Col de la Croix while a challenging 15km six percent gradient to Pas de Morgins awaits weary legs before the Tour returns to France for the 10 last kilometres.

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