STA, 6 September - Slovenian riders made history at the Tour de France yet again as Tadej Pogačar won the 9th stage and Primož Roglič came in second to take the overall leader's yellow jersey.
Swiss rider Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) made an escape 50 kilometres into the 153-kilometre mountainous stage between Pau and Laruns, only to get caught up by Roglič (Jumbo Visma), Pogačar (UAE), Egan Bernal (Ineos) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) 1.7 kilometre ahead of the finish line.
The devilish tempo was dictated by Roglič, a pre-race favourite for the overall victory, who secured the virtual yellow jersey on the climb to the Marie Blanque pass, while Hirschi was the first to break into sprint.
Although the Swiss was in the best position to win the stage, Pogačar blasted past him, followed by Roglič, who squeezed ahead by a whisker just before the finish line, so Hirschi had to settle for the third.
The finish in Laruns was where Roglič won his second Tour de France stage win two years ago for the 4th spot overall. This time he has become the first Slovenian ever to claim the leader's jersey of the most prestigious cycling race in the world.
"The yellow jersey is great. It's our goal and I hope to have it on in Paris. This was definitely a good stage for us," Roglič, 30, commented for RTV Slovenija, after taking the leader's jersey off Briton Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Overall, Roglič is now 21 seconds ahead of Columbian Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) and 28 seconds ahead of France's Guillaume Martin (Cofidis). Pogačar advanced to 7th overall with a lag of 44 seconds behind his compatriot.
Roglič lauded his young rival. "I'd like congratulate Tadej first, today we changed places from the fourth stage. He is really strong," he said, referring to the first Slovenian double win at this year's Tour. This is their third such feat including the Tour of Spain last year.
"It'd be great if everything was so easy. What can I say, Slovenians have obviously become a cycling powerhouse, just like the Colombians," he said.
"I only wanted to gain as much time as possible overall, but I saw we didn't gain much compared to competition. That's why I tried to get the bonus seconds in the last few metres. I don't really know how I did it, I just sprinted as fast as I could," Pogačar commented on his feat.