In an incredible climax to the Tour de France, Tadej Pogacar crushed his fellow Slovenian, Primoz Roglic, in the last stage before the finish in Paris.
- Pogacar is set to become the youngest winner since 1904
- Fellow Slovenian Roglic had started with a 57 second lead
- Tasmanian Richie Porte went from fourth place to third
Pogacar is now poised to win the Tour de France after claiming the overall leader’s yellow jersey after clocking 55 minutes, 55 seconds in the time-trial stage.
Pogacar not only secured the yellow jersey in the time trial, he won the stage too. Roglic had started with a lead of 57 seconds over his countryman.
The upset comes as Australian Richie Porte is poised to take third place on the podium in Paris.
He’s the second Australian to achieve the feat since Cadel Evans in 2011.
The Tasmanian, who was sitting in fourth place, leapfrogged Colombian Miguel Angel Lopez into third place overall by finishing the 20th stage in third spot.
Pogacar’s win all but guarantees the 21-year-old will become the youngest victor in more than 100 years, since Henri Cornet in 1904.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” Pogacar said after Roglic laboured to the finish, no longer in the race lead.
Stage 20 was a 36.2-kilometre individual time trial between Lure and La Planche des Belles Filles.
Pogacar won the solo effort against the clock as Roglic cracked in the uphill section, a 5.9 kilometre climb at an average gradient of 8.5 per cent.
“I don’t know what to say, it’s a dream,” said Pogacar, who now leads second-placed Roglic by 59 seconds ahead of Sunday’s final stage, a largely processional ride to the Champs Elysees in Paris where only the final sprint is contested.
“Getting the yellow jersey on the final day, we were dreaming of it since the start. I knew every corner on the road, thanks to the work of my team.
“I think that my head is going to explode.”
A raw talent who holds no fear, Pogacar, who celebrates his 22nd birthday on Monday, now holds three distinctive jerseys — the yellow, the white jersey for the best under-25 rider and the polka dot jersey for the mountains classification.
The upset echoes that of the last day of the 1989 Tour de France when American Greg LeMond won the race by eight seconds over France’s Laurent Fignon after starting the time-trial 50 seconds off the pace.
After losing all hope of overall victory following a crash in the opening stage, Frenchman Thibaut Pinot rode through impressive crowds and smoke in his hometown of Melisey, where the roads had his name and that of his goat Kim painted all over them, adding to the sense of surrealism on the day.
Porte says third place ‘feels like victory’
Porte said his brilliant time trial ride to all but claim third spot on the penultimate day of Tour de France felt as good as winning the race.
The Tasmanian started the 99 seconds behind Miguel Angel Lopez in fourth, but produced the time trial of his life to finish 1:21 behind Pogacar’s stunning 55:55 to leapfrog the Colombian.
Porte has endured so much disappointment over the years, including an untimely puncture early in the 2016 Tour that eventually cost him a likely podium finish.
He also crashed out in 2017 and 2018.
But aside from a puncture scare inside the final 8km of the 14th stage last week, where he was forced to jump on teammate Kenny Elissonde’s bike to stay in touch with the main group, Porte has enjoyed a largely trouble-free Tour.
“This means so much to me,” Porte told ITV Sport.
“I came here without any real pressure. In the lockdown I didn’t even think this race was going to happen.
“There’s been so many years of disappointment, crashes and whatever and dramas.
“We’ve had dramas here like in Leon with Kenny’s bike the other day with the puncture so to come away with the podium is amazing.
“It’s no secret that I will be leaving Trek-Segafredo … but the way they have got around me this year and supported me has been fantastic.
“I had the world champion as my bodyguard and all of the boys have played their part it’s incredible.”
Porte’s involvement in the delayed running of the race forced him to miss the birth of his daughter Eloise last week in Monaco and he admitted he’d considered missing the race altogether but was persuaded to take part by wife Gemma.
“I missed the birth of my second child but my wife told me to race and said if she saw me sulking at the back of the peloton she would be upset with me,” he said.
“So to come here and finish third … this is sweet.
“I am over the moon, this feels like a victory for me.”