LUZ ARDIDEN, France -- Tadej Pogacar won the final mountain stage of the Tour de France on Thursday to cement his grip on the race.
The short trek in the Pyrenees featured a daunting combination of the Col du Tourmalet and the final sharp climb to the Luz-Ardiden ski resort, two classics of the Tour.
Pogacar's main rivals did not take advantage of the brutal course. The defending champion surged away from a reduced group of four riders in the last kilometer. After Enric Mas attacked, Pogacar countered the move and dropped Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz to claim a third stage win this year.
Barring an accident, the 22-year-old UAE Team Emirates rider should be crowned Tour champion for the second straight year when the race ends in Paris on Sunday.
Before Sunday's processional ride leading to the Champs-Elysees, there is just one difficult stage remaining -- a time trial through the Bordelais vineyards scheduled Saturday. Pogacar excels in the race against the clock and won the first time trial of this year's Tour, beating the pure specialists.
Pogacar has a huge lead of 5 minutes, 45 seconds over Vingegaard in the general classification. Carapaz is in third place, 5:51 off the pace.