Tour de France, 17e étape - C'était le McNulty show : " Je me suis dit que Jonas et Tadej allaient me laisser gagner..."

Tour de France, 17e étape – C’était le McNulty show : ” Je me suis dit que Jonas et Tadej allaient me laisser gagner…”

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Quantity is fine. The quality is even better. Wednesday morning, departing from Saint-Gaudens, Mauro Gianetti, the manager of Team UAE Emirates, lamented the new twist of fate that had just hit his troops: Rafal Majka, Tadej Pogacar’s main lieutenant in the high mountains, had just left the Round. The Pole had injured his quadriceps the day before climbing the Mur de Péguère when his chain broke. As Marc Soler, ill, had finished late in Foix, there were not many people left around Tadej Pogacar.

But it did not feel Wednesday. Brandon McNulty was there and he put on a show, almost stealing the show from his leader, who won the stage in Peyragudes. Mikkel Bjerg first stepped on the accelerator during the ascent of the Hourquette d’Ancizan to make the escapees cry. “Mikkel was incredible, he set a tempo like he was a climber“, greeted Tadej Pogacar. Then it was the McNulty show. We almost only saw the American leading the race. Almost to the end.

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Tadej told me to go all out for a quarter of an hour“, says the unexpected hero of the day. So the skimming began. One, then two, then ten. They all “farted” in the face of the infernal tempo imposed by McNulty on the slopes of the Azet Val Louron pass. “While I was attackinghe continues, I started to hear that more and more runners were being let go.” All, in fact. Even Geraint Thomas ended up giving in to the train, which almost never happens to the leader of INEOS Grenadiers. Faced with a sharp attack from Pogacar or Vingegaard, yes. But not at the pace of one of their teammates.

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I stayed ahead longer than expected

Only the yellow jersey managed to resist. “McNulty was really strong today (Wednesday)“, admitted Jonas Vingegaard. So much so that the McNulty – Pogacar – Vingegaard trio took less time to get to the top of Val Louron than another trio composed a quarter of a century ago of Jan Ullrich, Marco Pantani and Richard Virenque.Even if the comparison has its limits (the stage was much shorter this year than in 1997), it did well and the “merit” goes to McNulty.

The most bluffing was yet to come since, even once his package was completed, the runner from Phoenix extended his effort, and not just a little. “I stayed ahead longer than expectedhe said in a school euphemism. It was a big effort, but it went well and I’m happy to have been able to lead a big mountain stage of the Tour de France for the first time. It was very specialIt was only 300 meters from the finish, when the final ramp at the Peyragudes altiport became delirious, that the Yankee stepped aside to let the two top names in the Tour compete for victory.

The victory and the bonus ‘: Pogacar consoles himself in front of Vingegaard

Brandon McNulty admits it, he wanted to believe, a little bit at least, in the fairy tale. “5 kilometers from the finish, I told myself that Jonas and Tadej were going to be nice and that they were going to let me win the stage… but I realized that there are no gifts in this sport“, he admitted. He did not lose everything. His number earned him the designation of the most combative runner of the day and, as such, a podium finish in Peyragudes.

It’s an honor and a pleasure for me, I’m not often entitled to it“, smiles the model team-mate, who was entitled to the congratulations of the boss Pogacar: “Brandon was good the whole Tour, but he deserves a special mention today.“It’s the least we can say. On Thursday, we’ll have to do it again.”It will be at least as hard“, loose “Big Mac”. But if he has the same legs, it will be especially hard for the others.

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