Victory all but secured for Tour de France champ

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There was no drama this time, and Tadej Pogacar is all however assured to win a second straight Tour de France.

The defending champion from Slovenia simply wanted to play it protected in Saturday’s time trial to place the ending touches to his summer time triumph and retain his yellow jersey. That is precisely what he did, putting eighth nearly one minute behind stage winner Wout van Aert.

It was a pointy distinction to final 12 months’s closing race towards the clock on the Planche des Belles Filles, the place the UAE Workforce Emirates rider clinched the general win with a last-minute effort in one of the crucial exceptional turnarounds within the historical past of the race.

“Final 12 months every part was selected the final (time trial) and the feelings had been by far stronger,” Pogacar mentioned.

With the ultimate day of the race on Sunday normally uneventful till the final dash on the Champs-Elysees, the Stage 20 time trial marked the final critical take a look at after almost three exhausting weeks.

Given Pogacar’s close to six-minute benefit in the beginning, it was unlikely somebody would be capable of knock the Slovenian off his perch.

As Van Aert claimed the 31km stage from Libourne to Saint-Emilion, Pogacar didn’t take any dangers, conceding 57 seconds to the Belgian champion. He’ll carry an insurmountable lead of 5 minutes, 20 seconds into the ultimate day, a 109km stage from Chatou to Paris.

Pogacar gained the delayed Tour final September at 21 and have become the youngest champion in 116 years.

“I can not evaluate each Tour de France victories. I can not say which one is extra stunning,” he mentioned. “This time, I took the yellow jersey fairly earlier. It has been completely totally different.”

Pogacar routed all of his rivals through the first week of crash-filled racing. He stamped his authority on the race within the first time trial in Laval and snatched the yellow jersey within the Alps. He reigned supreme within the Pyrenees with two consecutive stage wins, and didn’t must go full gasoline within the burning warmth enveloping the vineyards of Saint-Emilion.

It was Van Aert’s second stage win this 12 months after the versatile Belgian claimed the double ascent of the Mont Ventoux.

On a course with frequent adjustments of course, Van Aert delivered a classic efficiency of uncooked energy to assert a fifth particular person stage win on the Tour.

Van Aert clocked 35:53, profitable by 21 seconds forward of second-placed Kasper Asgreen. Jonas Vingegaard was third, 32 seconds off the tempo.

“It’s fairly one thing,” Van Aert mentioned. “Successful a Tour de France time trial has been one of many largest targets in my profession. I have been actually targeted on this present day within the final couple of days, and I am so joyful that I can end it off. The course was good for me, it was extra rolling and quicker than the primary TT.”

Van Aert can dash, climb and time trial, however is just too heavy to combat for the overall classification. He labored in assist of Jumbo-Visma chief Primoz Roglic and was given extra leeway by his group after Roglic retired from the race.

“It has been an actual arduous Tour de France for our group, however in the long run, we’ve got three stage wins and we’ve got Jonas in second on GC, which is a tremendous outcome for under 4 guys left, so I am actually pleased with how we combat.”

Total, Vingegaard cemented his runner-up spot forward of Richard Carapaz, who lagged 7:03 behind Pogacar.

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