Cycling

AND THEN THERE WERE TWO

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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).

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 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.

Stage 15

1Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates04:34:13
2Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma
3Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo00:00:05
4Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team00:00:08
5Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team00:00:15
6Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma00:00:15
7Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:00:15
8Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott00:00:15
9Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:00:18
10Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team00:00:24
11Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:00:24
12Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:00:34
13Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren00:01:54
14Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis00:03:25
15Harold Alfonso Tejada Canacue (Col) Astana Pro Team00:03:36
16Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ00:03:43
17Kenny Elissonde (Fra) Trek-Segafredo00:03:46
18Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic00:03:50
19Jan Hirt (Cze) CCC Team00:04:05
20Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic00:05:10
21Daniel Martin (Irl) Israel Start-Up Nation00:05:14
22Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team00:05:22
23Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale00:06:33
24Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers00:07:20
25Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers00:07:20
26David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:07:20
27Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:07:20
28Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:07:20
29Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma00:07:20
30George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma00:08:20

GC after stage 15

1Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma65:37:07
2Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates00:00:40
3Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:01:34
4Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team00:01:45
5Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott00:02:03
6Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo00:02:13
7Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:02:16
8Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team00:03:15
9Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic00:05:08
10Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:05:12
11Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis00:06:45
12Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team00:06:52
13Egan Arley Bernal Gomez (Col) Ineos Grenadiers00:08:25
14Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren00:09:02
15Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic00:32:27
16Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers00:32:55
17Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma00:34:37
18Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept00:41:33
19Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:43:26
20Esteban Chaves (Col) Mitchelton-Scott00:57:07
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Author: John Trevorrow

JOHN TREVORROW is a multiple Australian champion road racer and Olympian who has been doing media commentary at the Tour de France for more than 20 years.

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