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Slovenian pals primed for two-way Tour tussle

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The battle for Tour de France supremacy looks like being an all-Slovenian affair after Tadej Pogacar won stage 15 to close the gap on race leader Primoz Roglic while Egan Bernal saw the defence of his title ended on the unforgiving slopes of the Grand Colombier.  (Fiona Hanson/PA)

The battle for Tour de France supremacy looks like being an all-Slovenian affair after Tadej Pogacar won stage 15 to close the gap on race leader Primoz Roglic while Egan Bernal saw the defence of his title ended on the unforgiving slopes of the Grand Colombier. (Fiona Hanson/PA)

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The battle for Tour de France supremacy looks like being an all-Slovenian affair after Tadej Pogacar won stage 15 to close the gap on race leader Primoz Roglic while Egan Bernal saw the defence of his title ended on the unforgiving slopes of the Grand Colombier. (Fiona Hanson/PA)

The battle for Tour de France supremacy looks like being an all-Slovenian affair after Tadej Pogacar won stage 15 to close the gap on race leader Primoz Roglic while Egan Bernal saw the defence of his title ended on the unforgiving slopes of the Grand Colombier.

Pogacar took victory and bonus seconds on the line just ahead of fellow Slovenian Roglic, cutting his deficit to 40 seconds as the 174.5km stage from Lyon delivered another shake-up to the general classification going into Monday's rest day.

Bernal began the day third, 59 seconds down, but cracked early on the 17km climb to the summit finish and surrendered more than seven minutes to tumble out of the top 10.

"Today I have lost three years of my life," said Bernal, who began the Tour complaining of an injury suffered in the Criterium du Dauphine last month but indicated his problems came down to a lack of power in the legs.

Now it appears to be a battle of two Slovenians, and two close friends who may find those bonds tested over the next week.

"It was a really difficult stage and in the end I was waiting for the sprint so I'm happy to win again," said UAE Team Emirates' Pogacar, who doubled up on his stage nine success."

Roglic said: "Obviously Tadej is really strong, but I have to say our guys today were incredible.

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"I really wanted the win at the end but Tadej was a little too strong, but it was a good day for us.

"For sure it would be better to gain seconds but he was better today. Anyway, I am happy with how it went."

Rigoberto Uran now moves up to third, a minute and 34 seconds down from Roglic.


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