Saint-Emilion, France – There was no drama this time. Tadej Pogacar is almost guaranteed to win the Tour de France for the second year in a row.
The defending Slovenian champion had to play it safe in Saturday’s time trial to complete the summer victory and retain the yellow jersey. He did exactly that, placing him in eighth place, almost a minute behind stage winner Wout van Aert.
This contrasted with the last race of last year at the Planche de Belfil, where the riders of the UAE Team Emirates took the last-minute victory in one of the most notable twists and turns in the history of the race.
“Last year it all came down to the final (time trial) and the emotions were much stronger,” said Pogačar.
The last day of racing on Sunday went generally well until the final sprint on the Champs-Elysées, and the stage 20 time trial was the last serious test, almost three weeks exhausted.
Considering Pogacar’s nearly six-minute lead at the start, it was unlikely that anyone could knock the Slovenes off their perch.
When Van Aert won a 31 km (19 mile) stage from Libourne to Saint-Emilion, Pogacar took no chances and gave the Belgian champion 57 seconds. He will carry an insurmountable lead of 5 minutes and 20 seconds on the 109 km (68 miles) stage from Chatu to Paris until the last day.
Pogacar won the delayed 9 p.m. tour last September and became the youngest champion in 116 years.
“I cannot compare the two Tour de France victories. I can’t say which one is more beautiful, ”he said. “This time, I took the yellow jersey quite quickly. It was totally different.
Pogacar routed all of his rivals in the crash-filled first week of the race. He gained authority in the race on his first try at Laval and stole the yellow jersey in the Alps. He won two consecutive stages in the Pyrenees and didn’t have to refuel in the blazing heat that surrounded the Saint-Emilion vineyard.
It was the victory of the second stage of Van Aert this year after the versatile Belgians insisted on the double ascent of Ventoux.
On an often-turning course, Van Aert delivered a vintage performance of raw power to secure his fifth individual stage victory on the lap.
Van Aert was second with Kasper Asgreen in 21 seconds and Jonas Vingegard was 32 seconds behind in third.
“It’s a lot,” Van Art said. “Winning the Tour de France time trial is one of the biggest goals of my career. I have been really focused on this day for the last few days and am very happy to be able to finish it. I think the course was perfect for me. It drove and was faster than the first TT. “
Van Aert can do sprints, climbs and time trials, but it’s too heavy to fight for the overall standings. He worked in support of Jumbo-Visma leader Primož Roglič and received more place from his team after Roglič withdrew from the race.
“It was a really difficult Tour de France for our team, but in the end we won three stages and Jonas finished second in the general classification. It’s a great result with only four people. I am proud. How am I going to fight? “
Overall, Vingegard placed second ahead of Richard Carapaz, who was 7:03 behind Pogacar.
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