Tadej Pogacar all but clinched the Tour de France on Saturday after his Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic let a 57 seconds lead slip on a French mountainside during a tricky individual time-trial on the last day of real racing. It was a staggering end to a bizarre Tour and the penultimate stage duel between two compatriots of different generations will go down as one of 2020’s great sporting moments.
The 21-year-old Pogacar will now lead the peloton into Paris on Sunday wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey and, barring disaster, will climb onto the top step of the podium. Staggeringly, the youngster will also pull on the polka dot jersey as best climber on the Tour, and also the white one as best under-25s rider.
“My dream was just to take part,” said Pogacar on his first Tour.
“I could hear nothing on the final climb and I went for it with everything,” he said.
Often unlucky Australia’s veteran Richie Porte climbed to third overall here to make the Tour podium for the first time, while Spain’s Mikel Landa and Enric Mas rounded out the top five with strong finishes too.
“It was such a sweet moment,” Porte, 35, said.
“Everyone knows the journey I’ve been on to finally end up on the Tour podium after growing up in far away Australia.”
“The two Slovenians were on another planet to us, they threw bricks at each other, there was no holding back,” said the Trek rider.
Porte said he considered staying home as his wife was expecting a baby. “She told me to go but didn’t want to see me at the back of the peloton.”
Ireland’s Sam Bennett looks set to win the sprinter’s green jersey, but must negotiate the eight lap dash that ends the Tour along Paris’ Champs Elysees on Sunday.
Here in the time-trial Pogacar pulverized the field with his stage-winning performance, and his team embraced him as they realized the 2020 Tour was theirs.
Roglic Let Down
Roglic, 30, had led the Tour since stage nine and his dramatic meltdown on the final climb means even as loser he remains the big story. Pogacar also is set to become the youngest postwar champion as a generational shift takes hold of cycling with a string of young stage winners.
The UAE rider Pogacar changed bikes, which took 12 seconds, after the 30km rolling section to tackle the 6km, eight-percent climb at top speed. Vuelta a Espana champion Roglic only decided to change bikes once his lead began to crumble fast, but it became painfully clear he was in for a horrible finale.
Dressed in yellow for the first time after covering the 36km in 55:55 Pogacar said he could hardly think let alone answer questions. The defeat comes as a bombshell for Jumbo-Visma, but the rookie’s performance will go down as one of the all-time-great turnarounds.
All the more so as Roglic has previously produced outstanding time-trial performances at the 2019 Giro d’Italia through the Tuscany vineyards and later that year on his way to Vuelta victory on the stage 10 time-trial at Pau.
STAGE 20 RESULTS
|1||POGAČAR Tadej||UAE-Team Emirates||55:55|
|2||DUMOULIN Tom||Team Jumbo-Visma||1:21|
|3||DOOR Richie||Trek – Segafredo||,,|
|4||VAN AERT Wout||Team Jumbo-Visma||1:31|
|5||ROGLIČ Primož||Team Jumbo-Visma||1:56|
|6||CAVAGNA Remi||Deceuninck – Quick Step||1:59|
|7||CARUSO Damiano||Bahrain – McLaren||2:29|
|8||DE LA CRUZ David||UAE-Team Emirates||2:40|
|9||MAS Enric||Movistar Team||2:45|
|10||URÁN Rigoberto||EF Pro Cycling||2:54|
RBA/AFP Photos: Bettini