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Wout van Aert wins the last time trial, Tadej Pogacar towards a second coronation

It would be a lie to say that we expected much from the 20e stage of the Tour de France, the second individual time trial, Saturday July 17, with its 30.8 kilometers traced in the vineyards, between Libourne and Saint-Emilion (Gironde).

Relive the 20th stage: Tour de France 2021, live: van Aert takes the lead in the time trial, Pogacar is gone

With reduced competition and a lead of 5 minutes 45 over his runner-up, the Dane Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma), the yellow jersey, Tadej Pogacar (UAE), could approach the day with confidence. “I did the reconnaissance of the course: it’s a very fast and not really complicated time, I think I can go fast. I approach it without pressure, I will do my best “, he confided the day before, at the arrival of the 19e stage, in Libourne.

A scenario like that of last year, where the same Tadej Pogacar had taken from his compatriot Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) the yellow jersey during the final stopwatch at Planche-des-Belles-Filles (Haute-Saône) , was in fact excluded.

Without any stake in the overall standings, we could still hope for a bitter battle between the riders, who dreamed of winning after being frustrated by Tadej Pogacar’s number at the start of the Tour, during the 5e stage, in Laval (Mayenne).

Fourth in the first time trial, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) struck a big blow this Saturday by winning with 21 seconds ahead of Dane Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck Quick-Step).

The Belgian, who had seen his dreams of a yellow jersey showered by his “best enemy”, the Dutchman Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) in the first week, had already taken a first revenge on July 7 by winning alone in the eleventh stage, between Sorgues and Malaucène (Vaucluse) – that of the double ascent of Mont Ventoux.

His teammate Jonas Vingegaard, 3e at 32 seconds this Saturday – as in Mayenne -, consolidates its place of dolphin overall. The duo concluded with style a complicated Tour de France for their team, after the retirement of four riders, including the premature one of their leader, Primoz Roglic.

“That’s how it is, it’s life”

The course of this time trial often changed direction, and there was a half hill halfway through: a “Route for pure specialists”, as noted by the race director of the Tour, Thierry Gouvenou.

And of specialists, precisely, there was one who was closely scrutinized: the Swiss Stefan Küng (Groupama FDJ), European champion in the discipline, and decided to take his revenge on Tadej Pogacar, who had beaten him by 19 seconds during the first time trial. Stefan Küng only finishes 4e, 38 seconds behind Wout van Aert. “That’s how it is, it’s life”, he will declare soberly on arrival.

For his part, Tadej Pogacar, who was satisfied with three stage victories on this Tour – the Laval time trial and the last two Pyrenean stages, Wednesday and Thursday -, ranks 8e of the day, 57 seconds behind Wout van Aert.

Parade on the Champs-Elysées

Tomorrow is the end of this 108e Tour de France, with the final stage: 108 kilometers of flat parade-style between Chatou (Yvelines) and the Champs-Elysées, in Paris. Perhaps the opportunity to see the “Cav” overtake legend Eddy Merckx?

The peloton may repeat it over and over since the first week: the Tour is only played once the finish line has been crossed. But, barring a catastrophe, Tadej Pogacar will be awarded his second treble in a row: the leader’s yellow jersey in the general classification, the best youngster’s white jersey and the best climber’s polka-dot jersey.

Until then, perhaps next year, to equal another record of the “Cannibal”, Eddy Merckx, who in 1969 had won the yellow jersey, the polka dot jersey and the green jersey – the white jersey n ‘ did not exist yet. And even a small price for fighting spirit to top it off.

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