“I wanted to win the stage, but the most important thing for me was to keep the yellow jersey and that was it,” said Vingaard.
“I knew I had no chance in a sprint against Pogacar. I tried a surprise attack, it didn’t really work!”
Adam Yates is third and his twin brother Simon is fourth, while Spaniard Carlos Rodriguez is in the top five.
Pogacar raised his arms and celebrated on the line despite being unable to clear Vingegaard, which he repeatedly tried to do on the final hill.
“I felt like myself again today after a bad week,” said the 2020 and 2021 champion.
“It felt great from start to finish, after several very hard days on the bike.”
There were six mountains to negotiate on Saturday, and the last two were Category 1.
Pogacar had promised an explosive finish, but his Danish rival was trailing him every kilometer of the way.
Vingegaard and Pogacar impressed fans as they battled for supremacy over the 21-day race that began in Bilbao in the rolling hills of the Basque Country.
Dane crushed Pogacar in the main stage 16 time trial on Tuesday, putting in his 1 minute and 38 seconds in the 22.4 kilometer race.
The next day, on the more difficult mountain platform, Pogacar cracked and shouted on his team radio, “I’m dead, I’m gone.”
Thus it was established that he lost nearly seven more minutes on the long, steep and punishing climb to Courchevel.
Runner-up on Pogacar in 2021, the smooth Vingegaard was the only rider to challenge the Slovenian prodigy in the high mountains.
In 2022 Jumbo-Visma Vingegaard went one step further and won the title at altitude, and that proved to be the case again in 2023.
Adam Yates won the opening stage in Bilbao, and was in great form this Tour, finishing on the podium alongside Pogacar, who won two stages.
This is a good comeback considering Pogacar broke his wrist in April and Yates just joined Team UAE.
“We didn’t win but we got another stage and two podium places,” said Yates after entering the press room on his black Colnago bike.
“When you have a leader like Tadig, it’s very interesting.”
Huge crowds turned out to cheer local hero Thibaut Pinot who was cheering every mountain as he finished seventh on the day.
“I did the best I could,” said a tearful Pinot, who was given a standing ovation atop the Vosges as he competed in his final Tour.