Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) is on the brink of winning the Tour de France after forcing a spectacular implosion from Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) on the penultimate stage, a thrilling individual time trial up the Planche des Belles Filles.
Pogacar just needs to finish safely in the bunch on Sunday’s procession into Paris to complete one of the biggest upsets in cycling history.
The 21-year-old trailed his fellow Slovenian by 57 seconds going into Stage 20, but immediately set about chiselling away at Roglic’s lead. After making a significant gain on the flat first part of the stage, Pogacar seemed to have knocked Roglic's confidence.
Tour de France
Classy Cavendish makes the time-cut with minutes to spare
Highlights: Pogacar set to win Tour de France after time trial thriller
Both men changed their bikes ahead of the final climb – with Roglic taking an age to get going again – as the seconds continued to trickle away.
The time swung in Pogacar's favour in the closing kilometres as the impossible dream suddenly became a reality, with the young rider winning the stage to cap a memorable finale. He becomes the youngest winner of the Tour since the 19-year-old Henri Cornet took victory in 1904.
The finale of this time trial ranks among the most dramatic moments the sport of cycling has ever seen, with many comparing it to the legendary final stage of the 1989 edition where Greg Lemond took the win from Laurent Fignon by eight seconds on a final day time trial.
‘This is happening!’ - The moment Pogacar overhauled Roglic
Seismic changes in the Jura
The stage did not just see the race lead change hands. Richie Porte (Trek Segafredo) put in a spectacular performance to climb onto the general classification podium. A massive collapse from Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) saw the Colombian tumble out of the top five, which allowed Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren) to climb up to fourth overall, despite finishing 14th on the day. Adam Yates (Mitchelton Scott) also lost two spots on GC and is down to ninth, while Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo Visma) climbed up to seventh with an impressive ride that saw him take second place on the stage.
A lot of attention has been paid in the past 24 hours to exactly how the mountains points would be awarded on this stage. Richard Carapaz (Team Ineos) needed, effectively, to outscore Pogacar, to preserve his lead in that jersey. Points were awarded for the fastest climb of just the mountain itself, and yet despite having a comparably easy run-in, the Ecuadorian was unable to go faster than Pogacar. As such the polka dots move onto the shoulder of the Slovenian, along with the white jersey (which he already held) and the yellow.
Thibaut brings it home
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama FDJ) was on home roads today and while this Tour has not gone the way he might have wanted, it was at least a positive way to end the 2020 race. Fans on the roadside were at their most animated as he rode past them. It was Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) who managed the best time from a French rider, with a blistering early effort on the course that saw him occupy the hot seat for almost the whole day. The man they call 'the TGV from Clermont Ferrand' was the first rider to go sub-one hour. He eventually placed sixth, just below Roglic in fifth.
Wout van Aert might have hoped for slightly more after being so heavily tipped for this stage. The Belgian's time was eventually good enough for fourth place.
With this being a time trial, there were no changes to the green jersey classification and while it is still technically possible for Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe) to catch Sam Bennett (Decueninck-Quick-Step) it would require the Irshman to have a spectacularly bad day.
Tour de France
'The guy nearly died!' - Froome 'warrants more respect' - Wiggins podcast
Tour de France
Plenty for Froome to work on before Tour - does he have time to get it done?