Tadej Pogacar
Tadej Pogacar is the defending champion and is set to win his second Tour at the age of only 22

Tadej Pogacar is set to win his second Tour de France after finishing seventh in the penultimate stage time trial.

Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert won stage 20, his second stage victory this year.

Pogacar, 22, will officially win the yellow jersey after Sunday’s final stage to Paris, when – by tradition – the leader is not challenged.

Defending champion Pogacar, of UAE-Team Emirates, is five minutes 20 seconds ahead of Jumbo-Visma’s Jonas Vingegaard in second.

Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers will finish third, seven minutes three seconds down.

“I’m super happy to finish – it went so fast,” said Pogacar. “There was so much support on course, I was just enjoying every moment, though I was suffering as it was super hot.

“I cannot describe it. I was going flat out but it was totally different to stage five [another time trial, won by Pogacar] where there was much more adrenaline. But today I did my best – I was prepared, but not as good in the legs.

“I cannot compare – last year was something else. This year is just different.”

A hot day in the saddle

The time trial took place on a hot day near Bordeaux and, for many tired riders, it showed.

Former Tour winner Geraint Thomas, who sacrificed any chances of a potential overall win after a crash early in the three-week race, came home 37th.

The Briton said: “Definitely been the hardest Tour I’ve done mentally. I enjoyed today – took it easy.

“You’ve got to go all in. I had a good team around me. Don’t get me wrong – there’s been some dark times.”

Van Aert won the 30.8km time trial by 21 seconds over Demark’s Kasper Asgreen of Deceuninck-Quick Step, with Vingegaard third, a further 11 seconds back.

Vingegaard clawed back 15 seconds overall on Pogacar, but Carapaz lost one minute 12 seconds.

The race ends on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on Sunday, when Britain’s Mark Cavendish will have a chance to break legend Eddy Merckx’s Tour stage win record with a 35th victory.

How did Pogacar dominate the Tour?

Pogacar’s performances in the lead-up to the Tour have been imperious. He has single-handedly beaten a string of in-form riders – several of them from Ineos, including Adam Yates at the UAE Tour in February.

The first week of this race was a controversial, crash-strewn affair, with Pogacar seemingly the only man to stay out of trouble as rivals Roglic and Thomas crashed out of contention.

There were early race attacks, hoping to upset his team, but, since his stage five time-trial victory, Pogacar has not looked back.

Attacks against him in the mountains were few and far between, and when riders such as the surprising Vingegaard – riding for Jumbo-Visma – did venture off the front of the peloton, Pogacar would follow them – making a strong point that he could marshal most situations himself.

Full stage results

General classification after stage 20

1. Tadej Pogacar (Slo/UAE-Team Emirates) 80hrs 16mins 59secs

2. Jonas Vingegaard (Den/Jumbo Visma) +5mins 20secs

3. Richard Carapaz (Ecu/Ineos Grenadiers) +7mins 3secs

4. Ben O’Connor (Aus/AG2R Citroen) +10mins 02secs

5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Bora-Hansgrohe) +10mins 13secs

6. Enric Mas (Spa/Movistar) +11mins 43secs

7. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz/Astana) +12mins 23secs

8. Guillaume Martin (Fra/Cofidis) +15mins 33secs

9. Pello Bilbao (Spa/Bahrain-Victorious) +16mins 4secs

10. Rigoberto Uran (Col/EF Education Nippo) +18mins 34secs

how much do you win on the Tour? Yellow jersey £430,000, green jersey: £22,500, polka dot jersey £22,500, white jersey 17,300Source: BBC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *