In a breathtaking climax, Slovenian Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) won the 2020 Tour de France at his first participation ahead of his compatriot Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Australian Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo), also bringing home both the white and the polka dot jerseys. Just one day before his 22nd birthday, Pogačar became the second youngest winner of the Grande Boucle after Henri Cornet in 1904, with three stage victories including smashing the stunning La Planche des Belles Filles time trial with an incredibly impressive performance.
Apart from green jersey winner Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), the other three riders who claimed a double victory – Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and the surprise success, Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) – were born in 1994. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb), voted the most combative rider of the race, was born in 1998, just one month before the yellow jersey.
Wout Van Art’s double
UAE Team Emirates took the first maillot jaune of the 2020 Tour de France after the crash-marred Stage 1 sprint, thanks to Alexander Kristoff winning from UCI World Champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. It was high pace, multiple attacks and a thrilling finale for Stage 2, won by Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) who also assumed the overall leadership out-sprinting Hirschi and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), also in Nice. Caleb Ewan showed all his talent and bravery in a very packed sprint in Sisteron, diving between Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the barriers and then overtaking Sam Bennett (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) at double speed.
The first summit finish was an appetizer for the final duel with Roglič first and Pogačar second on the top of the climb at Orcières-Merlette, then Milano-Sanremo winner Van Aert delivered a powerful sprint in Privas, winning from Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) while Adam Yates became the new yellow jersey after Alaphilippe’s penalisation due to taking an illegal feed in the final kilometres. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana Pro Team) won Stage 6 on Mont Aigoual after an attack on his breakaway mates, then Van Aert granted an encore at Lavaur in the tough Stage 7, which was impacted by crosswinds – thanks to which, along with several other GC favourites, Pogačar lost 1'21'', diving from 3rd to 16th place on GC.
Pogačar’s powerful recovery
But Pogačar reacted immediately, regaining 40 seconds and recovering seven positions in the GC after attacking from the main group at 15km to Loudenvielle on Stage 8, won by Nans Peters (AG2R La Mondiale), who was also in the breakaway. Then, the following day, the young Slovenian took his first stage win and climbed two more positions, out-sprinting the new yellow jersey Roglič and Hirschi – who was caught with just 1.6km to go – in a small group which also included other favourites such as the defending champion Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadier) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren).
Irish National Champion Sam Bennett finally achieved his first victory in the Tour de France in Île de Ré ahead of Ewan – and the two sprinters switched positions the next day in Poitiers, while Peter Sagan was relegated for a dangerous sprint. Then Under-23 2018 UCI World Champion Hirschi secured his first Tour de France stage win after a 25km attack in Sarran, and then it was the turn of the Colombian Daniel Martínez (EF Pro Cycling) who was first on the steep slopes of Puy Mary in the Massif Central. On the same day his compatriot Egan Bernal showed, for the first time, less than brilliant condition, losing the second place to Pogačar, who returned, significantly, to the provisional podium.
But Pogačar didn’t stop there. After another “first time” on Stage 14 with Søren Kragh Andersen, who arrived solo in Lyon after a smart attack at 3km to go, the Slovenian claimed his second stage win atop Grand Colombier in front of the yellow jersey Roglič, in a race that had definitely become the Slovenian Tour de France.
Third week’s breathtaking final twist
After taking his first pro victory last month at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Lennard Kämna (Bora-Hansgrohe) arrived solo at Villard-de-Lans on Stage 16. Bernal decided to retire before the start of the Tour de France’s queen stage, which was won by Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) on the Col de la Loze in front of Roglič and Pogačar, who lost 15 seconds to his compatriot. The most heartwarming moment of the Tour de France 2020 happened on the finish line of stage 18 with 2014 UCI World Champion Michał Kwiatkowski celebrating his victory arm-in-arm with his teammate, the 2019 Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz after a 60km attack together on the final day in the Alps. Kragh Andersen’s double arrived the following day, in Champagnole, after a 16km solo attack.
The Tour de France’s GC would be decided on the thrilling time trial finishing on La Planche des Belles Filles with a high speed first part and the well-known steep climb in the second. Being a formidable time trial specialist and powerful climber and counting on 57 seconds advantage was not enough for Roglič: shockingly, he lost 1’56’’ to Pogačar – Slovenian National ITT Champion – who blitzed the course with an unbelievable pace.
“I think I’m dreaming. I feel like my head is exploding. It’s really crazy. I was happy with the second place and now I’m here with the yellow jersey. I don’t know what to say, it’s unbelievable. I’m really proud of the team. They did such a big effort over three weeks. I feel sorry for Primož Roglič. He had done a very good Tour de France so far, he was superior during the whole Tour de France, his team did an amazing job and he had a bad day today. For me, to wear the yellow jersey on the final day, it’s just a dream and a big achievement. It’s amazing," said Pogačar on the finish line of Stage 20.
The final stage on the Champs-Élysées went to green jersey Sam Bennett in front of Pedersen and Sagan.