Jonas Vingegaard builds big Tour de France lead in time trial

COMBLOUX, France -- Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard might have time-trialed his way to a second straight Tour de France victory.

A sensational time trial from Vingegaard on Tuesday saw the overall leader extend his advantage over two-time winner Tadej Pogačar to nearly two minutes with just five stages remaining -- including Sunday's largely ceremonial, final procession to Paris.

Vingegaard, who rides for the Jumbo-Visma team, started the day only 10 seconds ahead of Pogačar after little could separate the two in a fascinating duel over the past two weeks.

However, when it came down to a direct head-to-head battle, Vingegaard was in a class of his own.

The Danish cyclist finished the 22.4-kilometer (14-mile) hilly route from Passy to Combloux 1 minute, 38 seconds ahead of Pogačar. Wout van Aert was third at the end of the 16th stage, 2:51 behind Vingegaard.

"I think it was one of my best days on the bike ever," Vingegaard said. "I mean at one point I started doubting my power meter was broken. I think today all the hard work paid off. ...

"On the flat part between the climbs I was holding back. I wanted to do 360 watts and I ended up doing 380, then speeding up a bit in the climbs."

The 26-year-old Vingegaard now leads Pogačar by 1:48 overall and it will take something equally sensational from the Slovenian cyclist to wrest the yellow jersey from his rival.

Adam Yates moved into third overall, almost nine minutes behind Vingegaard.

Riders face a mammoth mountain stage, the hardest of the race, on Wednesday. The last of four climbs of the 17th stage is a 28.4-kilometer (17.6-mile) slog up Col de la Loze, before sweeping downhill to the Courchevel ski station which hosts World Cup slalom races.

Tuesday's time trial had been seen as a potential tiebreaker but few could have imagined such a large gap.

Pogačar himself put in an impressive performance and flew through the first time check 26 seconds up on the rest of the field. However, Vingegaard -- who had rolled down the ramp last -- was 16 seconds faster than Pogačar at that point, after just 7.1 kilometers, and had extended that to 30 seconds after 12 kilometers of racing.

Pogačar opted to change from his time-trial bike to a lightweight road bike at the foot of the second-category climb, with 5.3 kilometers remaining, and that helped him on the ascent. But he was unable to match an extraordinary ride from Vingegaard.

"Today I could not do more, maybe it was not my best day," Pogačar said. "The Tour is not over but he gained a lot of time. We will try, but it will be much harder than last year. I gave everything."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.