CULOZ – Ineos leader Egan Bernal’s defence of the Tour de France was left in tatters after the Colombian lost several minutes on the first major mountain of the race Sunday, as rookie Slovenian Tadej Pogacar won stage 15.
Jumbo-Visma’s Primoz Roglic retained the overall lead after the 17km ascent of the Grand Colombier mountain as his key challenger Bernal slipped to more than eight minutes behind in the yellow jersey standings.
Bernal’s Ineos formerly known as Sky have won seven of the last eight Tours and the mountain meltdown marks something of a turning point for the British team.
Dutch team Jumbo led the peloton up the Grand Colombier’s 17km climb in their yellow and black outfits with a relentless high tempo.
Their yellow jersey Roglic, third on the day behind Australian Richie Porte, attacked first, but Roglic’s 21-year old compatriot had the edge over the final 50m.
Roglic leads Pogacar by 40 seconds with six stages remaining, with Rigoberto Uran in third at 1min 34sec, and Miguel Angel Lopez and Adam Yates rounding out the top five.
Pogacar said he bided his time and just kept up.
“I don’t know what happened to Bernal, but Jumbo set a terrible pace and some riders payed for it,” the UAE leader explained
Another casualty was Nairo Quintana, who also dropped out of the running for the overall lead.