Wout van Aert doubled up – adding Stage 20 to his Stage 11 win – with victory in the individual time trial in Saint-Emilion on Saturday. Race leader Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) came home in a time of 36’50” to take eighth on the day and all but seal a second successive Tour de France win.
Jumbo-Visma rider van Aert finished in a time of 35’53” with Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck - Quick Step) second and Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) third.
The result means that Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz (INEOS Grenadiers) defended their spots as second and third on the podium, with Pogacar holding a 5’20” advantage over Vingegaard heading into Sunday’s processional stage to Paris.
Belgian fans can dream of having it all once more - thanks to Van Aert and Evenepoel
‘He wins the Tour de France again!’ – Pogacar coasts through ITT
The early running was made by Switzerland's Stefan Bisseger (EF Education First Nippo) and Dane Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates), with Bjerg setting a provisional best time that was beaten just a few moments later by the Swiss TT specialist. Bisseger was able to enjoy some time in the hotseat, until another Dane knocked him off the top spot.
Asgreen rocketed into the top spot with his time of 36'14", a mark that would only be beaten once by the remaining riders down the ramp.
Van Aert's performance was an explosive one, with the Belgian road champion tearing through the best times at each intermediate check on his way to the finish line. After the stage, he said.
It's been a real hard Tour for our team, but in the end we have three stage wins and Jonas [Vingegaard] in second on GC. Just amazing for only four guys left.
While Geraint Thomas, who finished 47th today and 3'28" down, summarised the Tour as a whole for Eurosport's Bernie Eisel.
"It's definitely been hardest Tour I've done mentally. I enjoyed today - took it easy. I liked being on my own, didn't have to worry about crashing. People crashing into me or people in front of me crashing."
This close to Paris, it was gratifying to see that no riders were cut for being outside the time limit, and Mark Cavendish was in particularly high spirits at the end of his effort – which came very early in the day's action.
‘You just absorb it’ – Mark Cavendish on the Time Trial
Cavendish will attempt to break the all-time record for Tour de France stage wins on the Champs-Elysees tomorrow.
The top ten was filled out by Mattia Cattaneo (Deceuninck QuickStep) in sixth, Magnus Cort (EF Education First Nippo), the fourth rider from Denmark in the top ten, in ninth and home favourite Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck QuickStep) in tenth.
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