19 September 2020 18:45
Tadej Pogacar pulled off an extraordinary coup in the penultimate time trial stage of the Tour de France, in effect clinching this year's race in a shock defeat of the long-time race leader Primoz Roglic at La Planche des Belles Filles mountain top in the Vosges. In a remarkable climax to the three weeks of racing, Pogacar overturned his 57sec deficit to his fellow Slovenian to storm into the yellow jersey and a now inevitable victory in Paris on Sunday. Moments after being hugged by the defeated Roglic, Pogacar, who will be crowned the youngest postwar winner of the Tour, looked as shell-shocked as the erstwhile race leader. "I don't know what to say," the UAE Team Emirates rider said. "I think I'm dreaming.
"I'm really proud of the team. They did such a big effort on the way to get the yellow jersey on the final day. We were dreaming that from the start, and we achieved it. It's just amazing. "We did a recon, I knew every corner, I knew every pothole on the road.
I knew where to accelerate, because it was a road that you needed to know, so congratulations to all my team." Pogacar, the fastest at every split time, won the stage but said that after starting the Tour's final ascent, he wasn't aware of the time gaps. "I was listening to my radio in the first part but then on the climb I didn't hear anything because the fans were too loud. I didn't get any time gaps. I just went deep because I know the climb very well, so I just went full gas from the bottom to the top." The strain shows on Tadej Pogacar. Photograph: Getty Images Roglic, of Jumbo-Visma, appeared out of sorts throughout the stage and struggled to find the fluidity that has characterised his climbing so far. A misfiring bike change from time-trial bike to climbing bike at the foot of the final climb only seemed to slow his momentum further. It was the most remarkable turnaround at the climax of the Tour since Greg Lemond usurped Laurent Fignon to claim overall victory in the 1989 Tour by just eight seconds. Tadej Pogacar effectively clinched the Tour de France title with an incredible performance as Primoz Roglic wilted in a dramatic individual time trial on Saturday. UAE Team Emirates rider Pogacar, obliterated Roglic's 57-second lead in the general classification on the 36.2-kilometre ride from Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles, winning the penultimate stage with a simply stunning display. Barring any potential shocks on the procession into Paris on Sunday, Pogacar will take his place at the top of the podium in a Grand Tour for the first time in his career. The 21-year-old Slovenian crossed the line after 55 minutes and 55 seconds, with his compatriot Roglic producing a time that was one minute and 56 seconds slower – only good enough for fifth. Pogacar had the yellow jersey and the King of the Mountains title in his sights but needed to go flat out in order to overthrow GC leader Roglic and polka dot jersey holder Richard Carapaz. He started at a high pace and had 13 seconds on Roglic at the first checkpoint, and by the second split – which came at the base of a 5.9km climb at a gradient of 8.5 per cent – the Jumbo-Visma rider's overall advantage had been cut to 21 seconds. Both switched to road bikes at the base of the ascent but Roglic's changeover was far more sluggish and he appeared to be in trouble as he got out of his seat for more power. He could not match the phenomenal pace of Pogacar, who completed an unbelievable turnaround to take the yellow jersey and top the climbing classifications, with Carapaz failing to get a point. Roglic slumped to the floor after getting off his bike and stared blankly ahead, the title having evaded him despite being in yellow since after stage nine. Richie Porte was third fastest on the day, which proved enough to move past Miguel Angel Lopez and secure a place on the third step of the podium, while Sam Bennett all but clinched the green jersey. MAKING THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE Prior to the heading down the ramp, Pogacar told the media "everything is possible". He proved that was true with one of the greatest comebacks in Tour history. "I think I'm dreaming. I don't know what to say. Unbelievable," he said following his triumph. Roglic, who slipped 59 seconds adrift of Pogacar following a disappointing display, then interrupted the interview to give his compatriot a hug and say "good job". Pogacar will become the second-youngest Tour de France winner in history – behind a 19-year-old Henri Cornet in 1904 – when he crosses the line on Sunday. STAGE RESULT 2. Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) +1:21 4. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) +1:31 CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS General Classification 1. Tadej Pogacar (Team Emirates) 84:26:33 3. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) +3:30 Points Classification 1. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 319 2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 264 3. Matteo Trentin (CCC) 250 King of the Mountains 1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE) Team Emirates) 82 2. Richard Carapaz (Team INEOS) 74 3. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) 67 The champagne will be flowing as the riders cover the flat 122km route from Mantes-La-Jolie to the iconic Champs-Elysees in Paris.