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Wout van Aert wins final time trial as Tadej Pogacar all but seals second successive Tour de France title

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Tadej Pogacar, Wout van Aert and Jonas Vingegaard – GETTY IMAGES / EPA

Van Aert wins his second stage at the 2021 Tour de France

Pogacar all but seals second consecutive Tour title

Vingegaard second in location to fill runners-up spot

Carapaz to become first Ecuadorian to make the podium

When in future years they look back on the 2021 Tour de France, it will be the story of a race which began thrillingly, with an extraordinary first week featuring crashes and chaos and flat-out action and Mark Cavendish’s rebirth and a woman who took out half the peloton with a cardboard sign and then went into hiding.

But one which ultimately ended with Tadej Pogacar bludgeoning his rivals into submission, claiming his second successive Tour de France title by over five minutes. Saturday’s penultimate daytime trial was a long, long way from the dramatic 11th hour time trial at the same stage of the race 10 months ago, when Pogacar blindsided his compatriot Primoz Roglic on La Planche des Belles Filles.

Then there was a feeling of shock and awe that a 21-year-old could have done such a thing. This year’s victory was a rout. There was zero suspense on Saturday. The setting was glorious – the vineyards outside Saint-Emilion resplendent in the summer sunshine – but the crowds might as well have been snoozing off a bottle or two of Grand Cru for all the action they got. Only two riders will finish within 10 minutes of Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) when the race rolls into Paris this afternoon.

Tadej Pogacar

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma), who will finish at 5:20 and Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) who finishes at 7:03. The Slovenian could probably have extended his advantage had he so wished. He won the first time trial of the race in Laval. This time, he chose to pick his way carefully through the vines, finishing eighth fastest, almost a minute slower than stage winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

Undoubtedly Pogacar is an exceptional rider. Probably a generational talent. Eddy Merckx himself predicted on Friday that he would ultimately win more Tours than the five he won. Yet, it is still too early to call this the Age of Pogacar. Context is everything, and while he may have won this race at a canter, circumstances denied us the chance to see Pogacar up against his rivals at their best.

We do not yet know how a fully fit and firing Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers) would get on against the boy prince. We are left wondering how Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) might have fared this year had he not fallen, like Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), on stage three. And we still have the exciting prospect of other young and exciting talents coming to join the party.

Cycling’s stars are getting ever younger, and who is to say how Remco Evenepoel, Tom Pidcock, or Vingegaard himself could push on from here if he is given proper backing. Pogacar himself appeared reluctant to talk up this win. Earlier this week, he dismissed any talk of a “Pogacar era” as “stupid”.

“For sure, a new generation is coming,” he said. “We see so many youngsters stepping up to the highest level. I think it’s a nice era of cycling now and we will see a lot of battles between everybody. It’s going to be a great next decade.” In his winner’s press conference, he continued that theme, saying he did not consider himself the “boss” of the peloton in the same way as a Merckx or a Lance Armstrong.

“I don’t like really comparisons,” he said. “Because every rider is unique and has their own personality. I don’t consider myself a boss. We are just here to do the race and enjoy the bike. It’s very different compared this year to last year. Last year was less stressed about everything [because he did not lead the race until the final day]. This year is a bit more difficult off the bike, but I think it’s more enjoyable. I can enjoy the moment more.”

After that frantic start, one of the best opening blocks in Tour history, the race for yellow somewhat petered out by the end. A battle-weary peloton will ride into Paris before disappearing in different directions, some to Tokyo for the Olympic road race, others for a much-needed lie down.

But not before Cavendish goes for history this afternoon. Barring some fallout from the Bahrain-Victorious police raid the other night or development in a report by Swiss newspaper Le Temps earlier this week, which raised the specter of mechanical doping at this race, with three separate riders at the Tour alleging that they heard noises they had never heard before coming from bikes involving four teams at the race, Cavendish’s bid for the win. No 35 will take center stage today.

Van Aert – one of those whading to Tokyo – was asked whether he was satisfied with his two stage wins at this race, his other victory coming after the double ascent of Ventoux in the mid-week, or whether he needed a bunch sprint before he boarded his flight. He said he would do his best to defend his compatriot Merckx’s honor. “I’m still motivated for tomorrow,” he said. “Especially with the sprint on the Champs Elysees being so iconic. We’ll definitely try for it.”

Cavendish, though, with a full Deceuninck-QuickStep leadout, will be the overwhelming favorite. “I’m already thinking of tomorrow,” said the 36-year-old, who may well be racing at the Tour for a final time. “I hope for a stage win. As with every stage, many teams haven’t won yet and will battle for victory. Anyway, it will normally come down to a sprint on the Champs Elysees. I will just try to win this bike race.”

03:58 pm

Pogacar all but seals the Tour de France

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) has finished his time trial in eighth place, 57.35sec down on stage winner Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). At the same time, he also lost 25sec on Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), who was third behind Kasper As green (Deceuninck-Quick Step). However, having taken a 5min 45sec lead into Saturday’s stage, that maillot Jaune should stay on the shoulders of the defending champion all the way to the Champs-Élysées. Some of the time gaps may have changed following stage 20, but not one rider in the general classification top 10 moved up or down.

03:57 pm

Vingegaard impresses with third

Jonas Vingegaard sets the third-fastest time of the day to all but seals runners-up spot at the Tour, while Richard Carapaz will become the first Ecuadorian to finish on the podium at the world’s biggest bike race. The Ineos Grenadiers rider has now finished in the top three grand tours after winning the Giro d’Italia in 2019 and finishing as runner-up at last year’s shortened Vuelta an España.

03:53 pm

O’Connor all but seals fourth

Ben O’Connor finished 2min 40.91sec down on Wout van Aert, but more crucially for the Ag2r-Citroën rider, he did not lose that fourth spot on general classification to Dutchman Wilco Kelderman.

03:45 pm

Vingegaard is flying

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) was the second quickest at the double check, 21.50sec down on his teammate Wout van Aert. That’s an incredible performance from Vingegaard, who will finish his first Grand Tour in the second spot while becoming the first Dane to take a podium spot since Bjarne Riis won the race in 1996.

03:41 pm

Aussie O’Connor is in control

Wilco Kelderman is just over 1sec faster than Ben O’Connor at the second time check. Unless O’Connor collapses or crashes in the final 10.7km of the stage, the Australian will keep hold of the fourth spot on general classification – they were separated by 32sec this morning.

03:34 pm

Vingegaard is on course to seal second overall

Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), who was third in the stage five time trial, has set the third fastest time of the day, over 17sec quicker than Richard Carapaz, so that should seal his second place on the general classification – they started the day separated by just 6sec.

03:29 pm

Pogacar plodding towards Tour title

Tadej Pogacar, dressed in his yellow skinsuit, is riding a very conservative race today. He was eighth fastest at the first time check, 16.83sec slower than Wout van Aert at the same point.

Tadej Pogacar – GETTY IMAGES

03:23 pm

All-rounder Van Aert takes the hot seat

Wout van Aert, who remember is targeting the time trial at this month’s Olympics, held ion in the final third of today’s stage to set a new fastest time, the Belgian going 21.19sec faster than Kasper As green having completed the 30.8km course at a speed of 51.5km.

03:15 pm

O’Connor out on course

Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën), one of the revelations at this year’s Tour de France, has just started. Can the Aussie who signed to the French team late last year on a one-year contract keep hold of his fourth place on general classification? Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) to follow here today.

03:12 pm

Wind assisted Van Aert on course to take the hot seat

Kasper As green went fast on the final third of this course, while Stefan Küng lost his way. According to reports, there is a slight tailwind out on the final run-in to the line, which may help Wout van Aert gain another 15 or 20 seconds on As green.

03:07 pm

Van Aert is on course for the top spot.

Wout van Aert is the fastest through the second time check-in Montagne, the Belgian has another 10.7km to go but is leading by 24.69sec. He looks very comfortable, pushing what looks like a vast gear – big chainring on the front and the smallest cog on his rear cassette. He’s an absolute monster in the best possible way.

03:02 pm

The final countdown

David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) is the second to last Frenchman to get his time trial underway. The young climber started the day 11th on the general classification and will not threaten the podium today. Next down the starting ramp will be the final 10 riders, filling the top 10 berths in the general category. Rigoberto Urán (EF Education-Nippo), Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana-Premier Tech), Enric Mas (Movistar), Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën), Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) will each get their races started at two-minute intervals.

02:55 pm

Paret-Peintre gets off

Aurélien Paret-Peintre (Ag2r-Citroën), who started the day 15th on general classification, has rolled down the starting ramp and the Frenchman who has enjoyed a decent Tour de France debut, receives a warm welcome. A minute later, Wout van Aert flies through the first check, and the Belgian sets a new fastest time.

02:46 pm

Where’s Wout?

There he is, out on the course. That’s right, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who is also riding the time trial at this month’s Olympic Games, has rolled down the starting ramp. This man is possibly the most excellent all-rounder in world cycling right now; when not contesting sprints against Mark Cavendish, the Belgian is winning stages with two ascents of Mont Ventoux, but can he win a time trial at the Tour de France? Stick with us, and we will let you know in around 35min.

02:39 pm

Thomas’s Tour is almost done.

Geraint Thomas has completed his race, the Welshman finishing 3min 6.87sec down on Kasper As green. One suspects he will be looking forward to a day or two off after his challenging Tour before returning to action in the Olympic road race next weekend.

02:35 pm

The Spanish armada

Jonathan Castroviejo, the five-time Spanish time trial champion who was again a monster in the mountains for Ineos Grenadiers, is out on the road, as are compatriots Ion Izagirre (Astana-Premier Tech) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).

02:30 pm

Küng’s horror show

Television pictures have just shown a distraught-looking Stefan Küng sitting on the floor, and it is not easy viewing. The Swiss did an incredible ride in the stage five-time trial only to be beaten by an otherworldly performance from Tadej Pogacar. He will have spent the last two weeks waiting for today’s race, but sadly for Küng, he just didn’t have the legs when needed most. A very sharp end to his Tour.

02:25 pm

Allez Alaphilippe!

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) rolls down the starting ramp, and, unsurprisingly, the Frenchman receives a massive welcome from the roadside spectators. Nobody expects the world road race champion to win today, but that will not stop him from putting on a show for his many fans. Shortly afterward, Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) gets his race underway.

02:22 pm

Team GB pair well off the pace

Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), representing Great Britain in the time trial at the forthcoming Olympics, was 48.03sec down at the first time check. Thomas’s trade and national team-mate Tao Geoghegan Hart, who will also represent Team GB in ‘the race of truth’ in Tokyo, completed his race 4min 2.09sec down.

02:11 pm

Küng’s crown slips in the final third.

A big shock this and Stefan Küng, who flew out of the traps, is the second-fastest on the day, 16.81sec slower than Kasper As green.

Stefan Küng – EPA

02:08 PM

Fuglsang’s last hurrah

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech), who has been relatively anonymous over the last three weeks, has got his race underway, while a few minutes back, Richie Porte (Ineos Grenadiers) rolled down the ramp. The Aussie is a decent tester but may struggle after doing so much work in the mountains for Richard Carapaz.

02:01 pm

Touch and go for Küng

Stefan Küng was still the fastest at the second check, but the Swiss lost a stack of time. However, Kasper As green gained around 15sec in the final third of the race, and so if Küng did something similar, he could take his place in the hot seat with the fastest time of the day.

01:46 pm

Küng the king?

Stefan Küng is flying. The Swiss were 10.11sec faster than Kasper As green at the first check, after just 7.6km. Will the Küng be crowned later on this afternoon with his first stage win at the Tour de France, which would be both a huge personal achievement and may just save his Groupama-FDJ team’s race?

01:40 pm

As green is the new leader.

Having set the fastest time at the two checks, Kasper As green dethroned Stefan Bissegger having belted his way around the course at an average speed of 51.003km, completing the 30.8km stage in 36min 14.53sec, which was a massive 23.40sec better than the Swiss.

Kasper Asgreen – GETTY IMAGES

01:36 pm

Küng out on the road

Brandon McNulty is the third fastest but was 50.39sec slower than current leader Stefan Bissegger. Stefan Küng is on the course, but all eyes are on Kasper As green for the next few minutes.

01:31 pm

As green holding on . . .

The great Dane held a steady pace and was also fastest at the second check – 5.61sec quicker than Stefan Bissegger. Stefan Küng, meanwhile, is sat in the start house looking mainly focused before the European time trial champion gets his race underway.

Kasper Asgreen – GETTY IMAGES

01:21 PM

Asgreen on the march . . .

Kasper As green set the fastest time of the day at the first time check, almost 7sec faster than Stefan Bissegger – 6.58sec to be precise.

01:18 pm

De Gendt’s last stand?

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), the Belgian rider who often puts in a decent performance in the time trial, has completed his race but was some way off the pace – 38min 35.42sec, 1min 57.49sec down on Stefan Bissegger. Although he has not confirmed it, there has been some suggestion that this may be De Gendt’s final Tour.

Thomas De Gendt – GETTY IMAGES

01:09 pm

American flyer

Brandon McNulty has set the third fastest time at the first time check-in Pomerol, while

Kasper As green (Deceuninck-Quick Step), the three-time Danish time trial champion, has just got his race underway, as has

Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos Grenadiers). Green is one of the favorites today, along with Stefan Bissegger, Wout van Aert, Stefan Küng, and, of course, Tadej Pogacar.

01:05 pm

Froome almost in Paris

Chris Froome completed his race earlier in 41min 21.62sec, 4min 43.69sec slower than the time later set by Stefan Bissegger. Despite having never threatened to win a stage, the four-time winner will, one imagines, be happy that he is close to completing his first Grand Tour since his career-threatening crash in June 2019.

Chris Froome – AP

12:58 pm

The next big thing?

Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), the young American who has been working over the last three weeks for Tadej Pogacar, has rolled down the starting ramp. McNulty produced some impressive rides earlier in the year and has been tipped by many as the next big thing in stage racing and will be keen on posting fast time.

12:51 pm

Wright on time

Shortly before Connor Swift (Arkéa-Samsic), the former British road champion got his trial underway south London’t Fred Wright set the day’s third-fastest time. One imagines the former VC Londres rider will be pretty chuffed with his time of 37min 49.12, which was faster than the likes of Chris Froome or Luke Durbridge could post.

Fred Wright – REUTERS

12:44 pm

The Wright stuff

Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious), the youngest rider at this year’s race, has caught his minute-man Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) before setting the fifth-fastest time at the second check. The young Briton, though, was 1min 4.85sec down on Stefan Bissegger and so is unlikely to dethrone the Swiss from his top spot. It decent looking ride, though, which will be a massive boost to the 22-year-old.

Fred Wright – GETTY IMAGES

12:32 pm

Swiss specialist Bissegger clocks off in style

Stefan Bissegger, the Swiss time trial specialist who suffered the misfortune of having to do his time trial during stage five in the rain, has set the fastest time of the day thus far. The neo-pro making his Tour de France debut clocked the quickest time at both checks, most notably at the fishing line.

Before setting a new fastest time, Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates), the former under-23 world time trial champion, had taken the hot seat; however, the Dana had not even sat down before Bissegger booted him into touch. Bjerg, by the way, was the first rider of the day to break the 50km mark – 50.286km, to be precise.

12:30 pm

As it stands . . .

As it stands, 57 riders have either completed their time trials for the day or are out on the course.

Riders who have finished: Tim Declercq, Cees Bol, Mark Cavendish, Michael Morkov, Mads Pedersen, Reto Hollenstein, Dries Devenyns, Rick Zabel, Chris Froome, Jelle Wallays, Jérémy Cabot, Sean Bennett, Julien Simon, Nils Eekhoff, Joris Nieuwenhuis, Marco Haller, André Greipel, Carlos Barbero, Omer Goldstein, Max Walscheid, Simon Clarke, Danny van Poppel, Boy van Poppel, Daniel Oss, Ide Schelling, Lukas Pöstlberger, Petr Vakoc, Mikkel Bjerg, Vegard Stake Laengen, Dmitriy Gruzdev, Christopher Juul-Jensen,

On the road: Casper Pedersen, Jasper Philipsen, Stefan Bissegger, Davide Ballerini, Kristian Sbaragli, Guillaume Boivin, Edward Theuns, Benoît Cosnefroy, Luke Durbridge, Luka Mezgec, Philippe Gilbert, Fred Wright, Jonas Rickaert, Carlos Verona, Marc Hirschi, Greg Van Avermaet, Iván García Cortina, Maxime Chevalier, Christophe Laporte, Pierre-Luc Périchon, Connor Swift, Jorge Arcas, Anthony Perez, Cyril Barthe, Bruno Armirail and Harry Sweeny. There are two time checks. The first in Pomerol after 7.6km, then another in Montagne after 20.1km, 10.7km from the finishing line.

08:30 am

Bonjour!

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from stage 20 at the Tour de France, the 30.8km time trial from Libourne to Saint-Émilion. Just two more sets of this year’s Tour de France remain, starting with this afternoon’s ‘race of truth’ through the famous vineyards around Saint-Émilion.

The final destination of the various jerseys will most likely not be determined by today’s time trial. However, that’s not to say the leading protagonists will be soft-pedaling their way around the relatively flat and non-technical course. For the penultimate time at this year’s Tour, here’s a quick reminder of who will be wearing what as a respective leader in each of the four main classifications – in other words, those that have jerseys.

Tadej Pogacar – Tour de France 2021, stage 20 – live updates – EPA

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) has the Maillot Jaune, the leader’s yellow jersey, for a 12th day running with an almost unassailable margin of 5min 45sec. Barring a spectacular collapse, the 22-year-old will be taking home a second successive maillot Jaune back to Slovenia after the race finishes in Paris on Sunday.

Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick Step) will be dressed in green as the leader in the points classification.

After winning Thursday’s mountain-top stage on the hors catégorie Luz Ardiden, Pogacar wrested the maillot à pois, the polka dot jersey awarded to the leader in the mountains classification, off the shoulders of Wout Poels (Bahrain Victorious). With just one more point available in that competition during Sunday’s final stage, all Pogacar needs to do to take home the maillot à pois is finished today and tomorrow’s stage within the respective time limits.

As an overall leader of the race, Pogacar also tops the best young rider classification. However, as second best, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) will wear the Slovenian’s maillot blanc, the white jersey. For anybody that missed Matej Mohoric’s second stage win at this year’s race on Friday, you can relive the highlights here . . .

So, what’s on today’s menu?

With just 240 meters in vertical elevation gained over the 30.8-kilometer course from Libourne to Saint-Émilion, it is a route that favors the classic time trial specialists. The weather forecast looks good, so none of the riders should have to contend with wet roads as Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) did during the stage five time trial that was won by some distance Pogacar.

Tour de France, stage 20 profile – Tour de France 2021, stage 20 – live updates – ASO

For Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) today represents a final hit-out before his assaults on the Olympic Games where the Belgian is eyeing the time trial title, while other specialists such as Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Kasper As green (Deceuninck-Quick Step), and the Bissegger above will also be hoping to challenge.

Tour de France, stage 20 circuit – Tour de France 2021, stage 20 – live updates – ASO

As is traditional with time trials in stage races, riders will roll down the starting ramp in reverse order of their standing in the general classification. So lanterne rouge Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-Quick Step), who starts the day in 142nd spot four hours 53min 15sec behind the Maillot Jaune, sets off first at 12.05 pm (BST). The last man to get his time trial underway will be race leader Pogacar, who sets off at4.19 pmpm. The total running order can be found below.