Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) snatched Tour de France 2020 victory from Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in a tense stage 20 time trial.
Pogačar put in a storming last-ditch performance to take 1-56 out of his compatriot in the yellow jersey, as Roglič looked like he completely capitulated on the final 5.8km climb to La Planche des Belles Filles. That meant Pogačar smashed the 57-second deficit he had to Roglič on GC, and now sits 59 seconds ahead with just the final stage to Paris to go on Sunday. The 21-year-old also took the stage victory, his third of the race, a phenomenal 1-21 ahead of second place, beating Tom Dumoulin to the win on a miserable day for Jumbo-Visma.
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The Slovenian set-off at a searing pace in the time trial and was 13 seconds up on Roglič at the first intermediate check-point at 14.4km ridden, but that left more than enough time for Roglič to recover and hold off any extraordinary turn around in the overall.
Both riders took bike changes from their time trial bike to their road bike at the bottom of the final climb, with neither particularly fast in the change. But while Pogačar continued on his road bike up the climb with the same venom he’d shown in the flat section of the time trial, things quickly began to unravel for Roglič.
The yellow jersey immediately began to look out of sorts having started the climb around 36 seconds behind, not showing the kind of fluid cadence he has throughout this race in the mountains. His time deficit just began to grow and grow, and as Pogačar smashed the stage and took the win on the line, it was already clear that the lead was changing hands as Roglič passed under the flamme rouge.
As his devastated team-mates Dumoulin and Wout van Aert could only watch on at the top of the climb, Roglič looked forlorn as he approached the finish and crossed the line almost two minutes down on Pogačar.
Along with yellow, Pogačar will also win the white jersey of best young rider and polka-dot king of the mountains jersey, taking the latter from Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) having ascended the final climb fastest to take the 10 KoM points available.
Elsewhere in the top-10, Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) moved up to third overall and his first career Grand Tour podium finish, after matching Tom Dumoulin’s time. Miguel Ángel López (Astana) slipped from third to sixth overall after he shipped over six minutes to the stage winner in a dreadful time trial.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) dropped to ninth place after a tough day in his least favoured discipline, while Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-McLaren) moved into 10th as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) fell to 12th.
How it happened
The 2020 Tour de France GC battle looked set to be decided on the 36.2km stage 20 time trial, which finished atop the steep climb of La Planche des Belles Filles.
Race leader Primož Roglič was in prime position to hold on to his lead and seal victory, with second place Tadej Pogačar needing to overcome 57 seconds to beat him.
Before that, 144 other riders would need to take to the course, many just aiming to get through within the time limit and ensure their place amongst the celebrations in Paris on Sunday.
The first benchmark time came from French champion Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), who went well under an hour with his 57-51.
That time stood for most of the afternoon as some riders rode in looking relieved to have got the time trial out of the way, while some put in maximum effort with numerous sub-one hour times being posted.
None of them could get close to Cavagna though, not until Belgian champion Wout van Aert put in a powerful performance to go 25 seconds quicker.
Van Aert didn’t have too long to wait for his time to be beaten, but he would have taken consolation that it was beaten by his team-mate Tom Dumoulin, who posted a time of 57-16.
As the top-10 on GC began to arrive at the finish it looked as though Dumoulin’s winning time would stand, with Richie Porte coming closest as he finished just under six-tenths of a second slower. It was good news for Porte though as that ride moved him up to third overall, with the previous incumbent Miguel Ángel López rapidly losing time as he was caught by both Pogačar and Roglič on the course.
The top two were well underway by this point with Pogačar still not looking like he could quite do the improbable and swing the GC in his favour. But as he hit the final climb he looked ever stronger as Roglič appeared to weaken.
By the top of the climb it was clear Pogačar would go on to win the stage, and as Roglič entered the final kilometre, that he would also overturn the deficit and take the yellow jersey.
Roglič looked a pained figure as crossed the line 1-56 down on his compatriot, who took the stage ahead of Dumoulin by a margin of 1-21.
The Tour de France concludes on Sunday with stage 21, a 122km route from Mantes-la-Jolie to the Champs-Élysés in Paris.
Tour de France 2020, stage 20: Lure to La Planche des Belles Filles (36.2km, ITT)
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 55-55-21
2. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-21
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, at same time
4. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-31
5. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-56
6. Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 1-59
7. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-McLaren, at 2-29
8. David De La Cruz (Esp) UAE Team Emirates, at 2-40
9. Enric Mas (Esp) Movistar, at 2-45
10. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Pro Cycling, at 2-54
General classification after stage 20
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates, in 84-26-33
2. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, at 59s
3. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, at 3-30
4. Mikel Landa (Esp) Bahrain-McLaren, 5-58
5. Enric Mas (Esp) Deceuninck-Quick-Step, at 6-07
6. Miguel Ángel López (Col) Astana, at 6-47
7. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 7-48
8. Rigoberto Urán (Col) EF Pro Cycling, at 8-02
9. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 9-25
10. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-McLaren, at 14-03