CHAMPAGNOLE, France (AFP) — Primoz Roglic kept his lead in the Tour de France with just two stages remaining as Denmark’s Soren Kragh Andersen burst clear to victory on Stage 19.
Sam Bennett inched further ahead in the struggle for the green jersey by beating rival Peter Sagan, who failed in two bids to shake off the Irishman.
Sunweb rider Andersen also won the stage at Lyon last week in similar style, striking from 3-kilometer out, this time he attacked with 16 kilometer to go.
“I have proved myself in the greatest race in the world,” Andersen said.
“I just thought ‘holy shit’ I’ve won two stages in the same Tour.”
“This is a result of all the work we have done at Sunweb over the past two or three years,” he said.
In the race for overall victory, Jumbo’s dominant leader Roglic retained a 57 second advantage over his Slovenian compatriot Tadej Pogacar.
The duo faces a much-awaited individual time trial on Saturday, which features a Category 1 mountain where the 21-year-old Pogacar has vowed to topple Roglic.
The younger man did just that recently in the Slovenian national time-trials.
“So far so good. Better even because I kept my energy for the big day,” Roglic said.
“I know how I’ll handle tomorrow. I’m feeling okay health-wise and I’m quite excited about it.”
Jumbo’s assistant manager Merijn Zeeman will not be there for Roglic. Zeeman was thrown off the Tour on Thursday for threats and insults to the control team checking Roglic’s bike.
“We are not happy with that. It’s not good for us.”
“I wasn’t there when all this happened, but it’s not nice as he cannot be here anymore,” Roglic said.
After three days going up and down Alpine mountains, stage 19 had been described as an easy day for the overall contenders, and so it proved.
This was not the case for Deceuninck-Quick Step sprinter Bennett however, who fended off the seven-time green jersey Sagan in their close-run contest for the remaining sprint points.