Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

UAE Team Emirates and Tadej Pogacar on brink of sensational Tour de France victory

Slovenian stuns countryman Roglic in dramatic time-trial to complete remarkable Tour comeback

Tadej Pogacar stands to claim a stunning overall victory in the Tour de France after his friend and compatriot Primoz Roglic cracked in a dramatic time-trial on La Planche des Belles Filles.

Roglic began the day with a 57-second advantage in the yellow jersey he has worn for 11 days, but it all went wrong for the pre-Tour favourite in the 36.2km time trial which ripped up expectations before Sunday's traditional procession into Paris.

In one of the most dramatic and closest finales to the Tour since 1989, Pogacar, the 21-year-old making his Tour debut, won the stage in a time of 55 minutes and 55 seconds to give him an incredible triple of the yellow jersey as well as the King of the Mountain's polka dots and the best young riders' white.

Roglic conceded almost two minutes on the stage, crossing the line dejected as he was made to settle for second place.

Richie Porte overhauled Miguel Angel Lopez to claim third and his first career podium finish in the Tour, in what the 35-year-old admits will be his last entry as a team leader before his expected move to the Ineos Grenadiers next season.

The upset echoes that of the last day of the 1989 Tour de France when American Greg LeMond won the race by eight seconds over France's Laurent Fignon after starting the time-trial 50 seconds off the pace.

"I think I’m dreaming. I don’t know what to say. It’s unbelievable," said a stunned Pogacar after the race. "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. I don’t know when I will get this.

"I’m really proud of the team. 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.

"We did a reconnaissance and I knew every corner, every pothole in the road, I knew when to accelerate and that's congrats to all the team.

"I pushed to the end and I made it. I was listening to my radio on the flat part but then on the climb, I didn’t hear anything from the radio because the fans were too loud.

"I didn’t get any time gaps, I just went deep. I knew the climb well and so went full gas from the bottom to the top."

Pogacar, who is set to become the youngest winner of the Tour since Henri Cornet in 1904, produced a simply stunning performance.

Roglic only took fifth place, 1:56 off the pace after what appeared to be a cautious start turned into a major meltdown.

The 30-year-old, who had controlled the whole race with his dominant Jumbo-Visma team, imploded on the climb and crossed the line with a livid face before sitting down on the road.

"I just obviously didn’t push enough," said a dejected Roglic after the race. "It was like that. Was just more and more without the power that I needed. I was giving everything to the end.

"We will see [how I deal with this]. Still I can be happy with the result and the racing we showed here, so let’s take the positives."

Updated: September 20, 2020 08:42 AM

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