Pogacar heads to the Champs Elysees, looking for a second Tour de France victory

Tadej Pogacar almost became champion of the 2021 Tour de France on Saturday as the UAE rider protected his large overall lead in the 20th stage time trial, ahead of the traditionally ceremonial final stage to Paris.

Wout van Aert won the time trial, but defending champion Pogacar’s solid ride means he only needs to cross the finish line of the Champs-Elysees with the peloton in Sunday’s 21st and final stage to keep the legendary yellow jersey as the winner of ‘ the world’s largest cycling race.

Pogacar won three stages en route to this dominant victory in a manner reminiscent of former champions Alberto Contador and Chris Froome, strong in both the time trials and the mountains.

He will also win the awards for best rider under 25 and the king of the mountains polka dot jersey, a triple he also achieved on his debut last year.

The top three in the overall standings remained the same after the 30km run on a blistering Saturday as rowdy fans filled the berms all the way to the pretty Saint-Emilion vineyards.

Jumbo’s Jonas Vingegaard is second into the final day, while Ineos’ Richard Carapaz is third.

A second place for the Dutch team Jumbo is a kind of triumph after their leader Primoz Roglic had a hard time early in the race. They also won three stages, although only four of the eight-man team made it to the final stage.

But a third-place finish for British outfit Ineos, with no stage wins, radiates a hint of the end of their era after the 2020 failure was blamed on Egan Bernal’s bad back. The British team entered this race with four co-leaders hoping to win an eighth title within a decade.

(AFP)

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