Cycling

PODIUM JOY FOR PUMPED PORTE

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FOR only the second time an Australian cyclist has finished in the placings at the world’s greatest bike race, says Tour de France expert JOHN TREVORROW:

THIS amazing Tour de France has saved the best until last.

Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emitates) has stolen the Yellow Jersey from his Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo Visma) on the final Alpine mountain of the race.  

And Australian Richie Porte (Trek Segafredo) won his personal battle against adversity with a stunning performance and is now set to finish on the final place on the podium in Paris.

This brilliant Tour has delivered some exciting moments but the penultimate stage, the individual time trial ,was always going to decide this bike race. Most experts had Roglic winning the stage and confirming his Jumbo Visma squad’s dominance this year. But the script was thrown out the window on the final 6 km up the dreaded La Planche des Belles Filles.

With riders starting in reverse order of classification and the main contenders heading off at 2 minute intervals, Roglic was able to get regular time checks on his young rival. This should have been to his advantage but Pogacar was magnificent and put up one of the greatest performances in the history of the Tour. Although Roglic fought valiantly the cracks were showing and at each time check it was looking more and more dire. Four kms from the finish on the steepest slopes on the climb, the 57 second advantage was gone and over the final agonising kilometres the race would slip away.

The time trial is called the race of truth and the truth is Tadej Podacar is the rightful wearer of the Maillot Jaune and will take a 59 seconds lead into Paris.

The television coverage was first class and the cut-out of Jumbo Visma teammates Wout van Aert and Tom Dumoulin watching their tour slip away was gut-wrenching to witness.

There was a special moment as a devastated Roglic sat dejected on the tarmac with staff and riders attempting to console him. He stood and walked into an interview with the new leader and grabbed him in a congratulatory embrace. An amazing moment in sport.

But the battle that most Australians were most interested in was Aussie Richie Porte’s fight for that prestigious third place on GC. Could the tough Tasmanian overcome all the challenges that he has faced in his long career and finally make it onto the podium in Paris?

He delivered big time with a world class performance.  “To finally crack the podium is an incredible feeling. It’ll take a while to sink in,” Porte said.  “For me it’s an absolute dream. I grew up watching the Tour de France on the other side of the world, seeing guys like Robbie McEwen, Brad McGee and the greatest of them all, Cadel Evans. It doesn’t matter what other races you’ve won, the Tour’s the one that you’re always judged on,” Porte said. “To finally crack the podium, that’s the picture I want on the wall at home, in Paris on the podium; it means so much to a bike rider. It’s just so incredible to finally do it, it feels like a victory to be honest.

 “It’s been a long journey with the battles I’ve had and the drama along the way, so I’m just so happy to finally be on the podium in the Tour de France.”

Porte started the time trial 1:39 down on Lopez, but was confident he could pull back the time. “There are always doubts in your mind and Lopez is a great little bike rider,” Porte explained. “I knew the two Slovenians were on another planet, but it’s been a good battle between us. I knew that I should be able to beat him in a time trial but you always have lingering doubts.

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“With three kilometres to go, my Sports Director Kim Andersen told me I was going to get my dream and it was such a sweet moment.”

But this Tour has been a duel between two Slovenians right from the start three weeks ago in Nice. Jumbo Visma always looked in control and, as good as the 21 year old is, it just didn’t seem possible that Pogacar would be able to turn the tables. 

”Actually, my dream was not to win the Tour de France, it was only to be on the Tour de France,” A delirious Pogacar said. “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 Primoz Roglic. 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. It was not just me racing today. It’s the fruit of a team work from the day we reconned the course. I knew every corner. I knew where to accelerate. After the great job of my staff and team mates, I just had to push on the pedals. My legs were really good. I was listening to the times through the radio on the flat part of the race but once on the climb I didn’t hear anything because the fans were too loud. I knew climb very well so I just went full gas. Calling my girlfriend was the first thing I wanted to do after the raceEven after finishing third at La Vuelta, I didn’t think I was able to win a Grand Tour. I just knew I could compete with the best. If you ask me in one week or one month, I will still not believe that I’ve won the Tour de France.”

For Roglic though this is just devastating.

“I am disappointed, I will cry, I did already, but it was how it was. I want it to be a little different, but I cannot change it. I just need to go on,” Roglič said. “It’s true I did not have the best day, Tadej was in a different world for me and he definitely deserves his win so really congrats to him.

“I just gave it everything and that’s all I can say. I’m disappointed about the result but still I can be proud of the second place and that’s all there is.”

“I didn’t know I was going to have a bad day, and of course it’s better when you hear intermediate times, but I was just losing and losing. I was just hoping Tadej would have some hard moments so I was pushing myself to believe in myself in the whole parcours. In the end I was very far from it,” he reflected.

“I feel sorry for all the guys because I didn’t do it on purpose,” he said. “I was fighting to do my best every day. But still I’m really proud of them, and the whole performance of the last three weeks.”

1Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates00:55:55
2Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:01:21
3Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo00:01:21
4Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma00:01:31
5Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma00:01:56
6Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep00:01:59
7Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren00:02:29
8David De la Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) UAE Team Emirates00:02:40
9Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team00:02:45
10Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:02:54
11Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:03:19
12Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:03:20
13Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team00:03:26
14Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:03:27
15Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic00:03:58
16Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb00:03:59
17Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe00:03:59
18Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC Team00:04:06
19Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ00:04:09
20Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal00:04:11

GC after stage 20

1Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates84:26:33
2Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma00:00:59
3Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo00:03:30
4Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:05:58
5Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team00:06:07
6Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team00:06:47
7Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma00:07:48
8Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling00:08:02
9Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott00:09:25
10Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren00:14:03
11Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis00:16:58
12Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team00:17:41
13Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers00:24:44
14Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic00:31:04
15Sepp Kuss (USA) Team Jumbo-Visma00:42:20
16Pello Bilbao (Spa) Bahrain McLaren00:55:56
17Nairo Quintana (Col) Team Arkea-Samsic01:02:46
18Pierre Rolland (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept01:08:05
19Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Movistar Team01:19:54
20Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma01:20:31
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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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