Unstoppable Tadej Pogacar on course for Tour de France hat-trick after devouring stage six

Tadej Pogacar powered into the Yellow Jersey, stayed on course for a Tour de France hat-trick and said: “Every time I win it feels even better.”

The defending champion devoured the 137 miles on stage six, from Binche in Belgium to Longwy, like a shark patrolling the beach for its lunch to take over the maillot jaune. And the Slovenian reeled in previous leader Wout Van Aert’s breakaway at such a ferocious pace that the riders covered the course half an hour sooner than expected at an average speed of 30.4mph.

Belgian hero Van Aert led the breakaway on home roads and tried to take on the peloton alone for the last 20 miles. But he was reeled in with seven miles left and Pogacar, 23, took over following a late attack from fellow Slovenian up the short final climb.

Hat-trick on the way: Pogacar looks unstoppable

Less than a week into the world’s most celebrated bike race, already it appears to be not a question of whether Pogacar wins – but by what distance. British trio Adam Yates, Tom Pidcock and Geraint Thomas moved up to fourth, fifth and sixth in the general classification to sustain Ineos Grenadiers’ hopes of a podium finish in Paris.

But Thomas’s mission statement – that Inoes could perhaps contain Pogacar by strength in numbers – already looks forlorn. After all, even when there were half a dozen elite American sprinters in the Olympic 100 metres sprint competition, Usain Bolt always seemed to win the gold medal.

Yellow peril: Wout Van Aert lost the leader’s jersey

Pogacar said: “Every time I win it’s even better. Today was so hard from the start. The first two hours were crazy and the strongest guy went in the breakaway. Lots of guys were pulling and in the end the peloton was stronger. When we came to the climbs I was feeling good and the team did an incredibly good job of bringing me to the perfect position so I’m happy.”

Van Aert, who changed jerseys from the leader’s colours to the lead sprinter, admitted: “For sure the Yellow Jersey is nicer than the green one, but I’ve enjoyed the yellow and I’ll enjoy the green as well. At the end of the day, we were only three at the front, so I was well aware that it would be a mission to stay up there till the end. But I’ve wanted to honour the maillot jaune and share the moment with the crowd.”

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