SLOVENIA will provide the winner – but which one? Tour de France expert JOHN TREVORROW reports:
IN THE toughest finish of the Tour de France so far most of the challengers fell away on stage 15 and now we only have two realistic contenders for the grand prize. It has become a duel between the two Slovenians Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar.
At the finish of the 175 km stage on the summit of the Grand Colombier, it was the 21 year old youngster Pogacar who took the win from his more experienced compatriot.
Australia’s Richie Porte (Trek) was the next best and over the last few days has shown he is the only rider able to stay with them when the hammer is down, and is capable of climbing onto the podium by Paris.
The Tasmanian attacked the Slovenian pair in the finale and at 250 metres to go looked like he may snatch his first ever Tour de France stage win. But in the end he had to settle for a gallant third place. He is currently 6th at 2.13 seconds from the lead but only 39 seconds from third spot behind Rigoberto Uran (EF Pro Cycling)
Other than Porte the only challengers that came out of this pivotal stage with some semblance of respectability were Rigoberto Uran (EF Education), Mikel Landa (Bahrain McLaren), Adam Yates Mitchelton Scott) who attacked impressively with seven km to go, and Spaniard Enric Mas (Movistar).Embed from Getty Images
All the other would-be contenders can forget about any real challenge and will now be looking at salvaging their respective tours with a stage win.
Defending champion Egan Bernal had looked vulnerable in the days before but cracked completely on the final climb losing a massive 7 min 20 sec and his Ineos team, once the powerhouse of world cycling, were no match for Jumbo Visma.
There will also be no fairytale comeback for nuggety Colombian Nairo Quintana who struggled over the final climb losing 3m 50 sec.
I can’t rate highly enough the performance of Jumbo Visma. The Dutch team have had a stranglehold on this Tour since day one. With the awesome power of big Tom Dumoulin, Kiwi climber George Bennett, American debutant Sepp Kuss climbing better each day and, especially, the astounding talents of Wout van Aert, the men in yellow have never been challenged. I have watched in awe as van Aert, this amazing all-rounder, just keeps surprising. He can sprint with Ewan, time trial with Roglic and now he has shown that he can climb the biggest mountains with the GC riders.
With a population of only two million, Slovenia is poised to grab the biggest prize in cycling but will it be the pre Tour favourite or the youngest winner ever?
Roglic has been a mentor to Pogacar from early on in his career. He cruised to victory in last year’s Vuelta a Espana but also helped guide Pogacar to three stage wins and third overall. An amazing feat for a 20 year old.
The pair may be very close but the gloves are about to come off. The next three days in the Alps are the hardest in recent memory and you would think that one of them has to crack. If that’s not the case then Saturday’s penultimate stage, a daunting individual mountain time trial, will decide it.
The intriguing battle for the Green jersey continues with Sam Bennett grabbing back two points to now lead Peter Sagan by 45 points. The intermediate sprints all the way to Paris will decide this riveting tussle.
But Bennett, along with Aussie Caleb Ewan and all the sprinters will have their work cut out to make it inside the time cut on some of the brutal mountain stages to come, specifically stages 16 and 18.
|1||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||04:34:13|
|2||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma|
|3||Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo||00:00:05|
|4||Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team||00:00:08|
|5||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||00:00:15|
|6||Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:00:15|
|7||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren||00:00:15|
|8||Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott||00:00:15|
|9||Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling||00:00:18|
|10||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||00:00:24|
|11||Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren||00:00:24|
|12||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:00:34|
|13||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren||00:01:54|
|14||Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis||00:03:25|
|15||Harold Alfonso Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana Pro Team||00:03:36|
|16||Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ||00:03:43|
|17||Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo||00:03:46|
|18||Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic||00:03:50|
|19||Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Team||00:04:05|
|20||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic||00:05:10|
|21||Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation||00:05:14|
|22||Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team||00:05:22|
|23||Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale||00:06:33|
|24||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers||00:07:20|
|25||Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers||00:07:20|
|26||David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||00:07:20|
|27||Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Col) EF Pro Cycling||00:07:20|
|28||Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept||00:07:20|
|29||Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:07:20|
|30||George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:08:20|
GC after stage 15
|1||Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma||65:37:07|
|2||Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates||00:00:40|
|3||Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling||00:01:34|
|4||Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team||00:01:45|
|5||Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott||00:02:03|
|6||Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo||00:02:13|
|7||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren||00:02:16|
|8||Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team||00:03:15|
|9||Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic||00:05:08|
|10||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:05:12|
|11||Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis||00:06:45|
|12||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||00:06:52|
|13||Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers||00:08:25|
|14||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren||00:09:02|
|15||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic||00:32:27|
|16||Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers||00:32:55|
|17||Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma||00:34:37|
|18||Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept||00:41:33|
|19||Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren||00:43:26|
|20||Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott||00:57:07|