La Planche des Belles Filles, France, Sep 19 (efe-epa).- Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) prevailed in the Stage 20 time trial here Saturday to all but assure himself of winning the Tour de France on the eve of his 22nd birthday.
He began the day second in the General Classification, 57 seconds behind friend and Slovenian countryman Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma), who spent 11 days in the yellow jersey.
Pogacar completed the 36km (22.5mi) course in 55:55 to take an insurmountable lead of 59 seconds over his compatriot before Sunday’s final stage into Paris.
Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo Visma) and Australia’s Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) both came in 1:21 behind Pogacar, while Belgian rider Wout van Aert (Jumbo) was fourth with a time of 1:31, followed by Roglic, who was 1:56 off the pace set by Pogacar.
“I think I’m dreaming. I don’t know what to say. It’s unbelievable. My dream was just to be on the Tour de France, now the dream is true. I’m here and now there’s only the last stage. This is unbelievable,” Pogacar said.
The Slovenian will become the second-youngest person to win the Tour since Henri Cornet did it at 19 in 1904.
And besides the winner’s yellow jersey, Pogacar will take the white jersey as best young rider and the polka-dot jersey as the king of the mountains, coming first in that competition thanks to the points he picked up on the climb in Saturday’s time trial.
The only other person to claim three jerseys on the same Tour was the legendary Eddy Merckx, who took the yellow, the polka-dot and the green points jerseys in 1969 at the age of 24.
“I’m really proud of the team,” Pogacar said after his third stage win of the 2020 Tour. “They did such a big effort. To get the yellow jersey on the final day is what we dreamed from the start. We achieved that and it’s amazing. It was not just me, it was all the team.”
Saturday’s result was a gut-punch, not only for Roglic, winner of the 2019 Vuelta a España, but for Jumbo Visma, who have been by far the dominant team in the 2020 Tour de France.
“I just obviously didn’t push enough,” Roglic said. “It was like that, I was just more and more without the power I needed. I gave it everything until the end. We will see what happens now. I can be happy with the result and the racing we showed here. Let’s take the positive things out.”
Porte, with his performance in the time trial, snatched third place from Colombia’s Miguel Angel “Superman” Lopez (Astana). It will be the first Grand Tour podium for the 35-year-old rider.
A pair of Spaniards, Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren) and Enric Mas (Movistar), also advanced at the expense of the Colombian, moving up to fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Lopez fell to sixth, ahead of Dumoulin, Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling), Briton Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Italian rider Damiano Caruso (Bahrain). EFE