The GC battle at the 2020 Tour de France was upended one final time during Saturday’s individual time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles.
Tadej Pogačar recorded the ride of his life to vault Primož Roglič to win the 2020 Tour de France, while behind, the top-10 was shaken up by strong and dismal rides by the strongest GC contenders.
So, how did the rest of the GC favorites fare? Let’s break down the action:
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates)
The good news: Pogačar stepped into the history books with, dare I say it, the most dramatic come-from-behind victory in modern Tour de France history. That’s right, I’m going there. I think that Pogačar vs. Roglič supplants LeMond vs. Fignon as the biggest comeback win. Why? Pogačar just erased a 57-second deficit while LeMond’s was 50. And beyond that, Jumbo-Visma’s team strength compared to UAE-Team Emirates is more Godzilla vs. Bambi than LeMond vs. Fignon was back in 1989. Pogačar has been basically alone in the mountains since the Tour’s second week, while Jumbo-Visma has steamrolled the uphill stages with its sprinter. Plus, Roglič has just looked stronger and more bulletproof than Pogačar over the past five days of racing. Remember when he dropped Pogačar on the Col de la Loze? I thought that was the beginning of the end for the Slovenian youngster. Boy was I wrong. Pogačar’s comeback is legendary, and not just in Tour de France history. This is the Boston Red Sox coming back from 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS; Liverpool coming back 0-3 to AC Milan in the 2005 Champion’s League final; Reggie Miller scoring 8 points against the Knicks in 9 seconds to win game 1 of the 1995 NBA playoffs.
The bad news: You won’t find any here.
Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma)
The good news: For three weeks Roglič and Jumbo-Visma did everything right. And then, Saturday’s penultimate stage blew everything up.
The bad news: Primož Roglič just lost the Tour de France after holding an iron grip on the yellow jersey for basically the entire race. He had the strongest team, by a wide margin. And he looked in control for the whole thing. The lasting image of his Tour de France will be him pedaling squares up the Planche de Belles Filles with his TT helmet laying crookedly on his head. This one is going to hurt for a long, long time. Roglič’s defeat today is a historic crumble, and not just in pro cycling, but also in the wider world of sports. This is the Golden State Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016; the New England Patriots ending an undefeated season with a Super Bowl loss; or Greg Norman losing despite holding that huge lead at the Masters in 1996. I don’t think it’s fair to call it a choke, since Roglič did finish among the best time trialists in the race. Pogačar was just on the ride of his life, and his 1:21 gap back to second place Tom Dumoulin is a sign that he was, by far, the strongest guy in the race. But Roglič just wasn’t his best at the only moment in the race where he had to be just that. I sincerely hope that Roglič someday wins the Tour de France, because a loss of this nature could follow him for the rest of his career.
Riche Porte (Trek-Segafredo)
The good news: Porte’s years-long assault on the Tour de France podium has finally born fruit. On Saturday Porte had the TT of his life, finishing third place on the stage (1:21 behind Pogačar) to leapfrog Miguel Ángel López and take the final spot on the podium. I cannot undersell how big of an achievement this is for Porte, who is now 35. He’s never achieved a result of this level in a grand tour, let alone the Tour de France, despite everyone knowing that he has it in him. Bad luck, flat tires, and the cursed ‘one bad day’ have always torpedoed his efforts. Porte this year was smart and measured, and he did everything he needed to do to stay out of trouble. On Thursday it looked as though Porte’s bad luck had finally hit, when he punctured on the Plateau des Gliéres. He chased back on to preserve his shot at the podium. On Saturday Porte simply smashed it, finishing alongside Tom Dumoulin on the stage.
The bad news: No bad news. Even the 1:21 deficit from stage 7 couldn’t keep Porte off the podium.
Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott)
The good news: Adam Yates held a top-10 finish at the Tour de France (9th) despite having a team that was initially built around stage hunting. He rode a smart and measured race, and took his opportunities when they appeared and limited his losses when he wasn’t strong enough.
The bad news: Yates did not have a great ride on Saturday and finished back with the domestiques and stage-hunters in the stage classifications. He lost 4:27 to Pogačar and tumbled down the standings from 7th place overall to 9th place overall. His 9th place finish is a testament to his strong and smart riding. But Yates definitely wanted a better finish, considering how methodically he has ridden over the past three weeks.
Enric Mas (Movistar)
The good news: Mas knocked it home on Saturday and finished 9th on the stage, 2:45 down on Pogačar. He stepped forward in the GC by one spot to finish 5th place overall, which represents a fantastic boost of strength in the Tour’s third week. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when Mas was trying to break into the top-10 at the race, so to finish top-5 is a major accomplishment. Plus, Mas confirmed his place as Movistar’s next Tour de France hope by riding a strong and methodical race in just his first opportunity to have GC leadership at the Tour. He was rarely, if ever, on the attack. Rather, he rode a measured and conservative race, and waited until week three to mount a charge. Mas leaves this Tour having checked a lot of boxes in what it takes to contend for the Tour podium.
The bad news: Mas was just 9 seconds out of 4th place!
Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling)
The good news: Urán’s held on to a top-10 placing in his comeback Tour de France. We shouldn’t underestimate the size of this accomplishment, and I’ve repeated the fact ad nauseam that Urán was contemplating retirement a year ago. Chapeau to Rigo Urán.
The bad news: Urán’s lost his oomph in the final week of the Tour and slipped from a podium contender all the way down to 8th place. He’s usually one of the stronger individual time trialists in the race, and on Saturday he was good but not at his best. He was 10th overall, 2:54 behind Pogačar.
Miguel Ángel López (Team Astana)
The good news: López proved that he is a real Tour de France contender by riding extremely well for nearly the entire race. Oh, and he won a stage!
The bad news: Aside from Roglič, López was the big loser on Saturday’s individual time trial, and he slipped from third place overall down to sixth. He was, by far, the worst placed GC man in the stage standings, and finished 6:17 down, alongside all-star domestique Michael Schär of CCC Team. It was a painful loss of time for López, who looked poised to land on the box in just his first Tour de France appearance.
Mikel Landa (Bahrain-McLaren)
The good news: Landa continued to pick away at the GC standings in this Tour de France, and stepped forward one spot on GC to land in 4th-place overall. This ties his best-ever finish in the race (2017), and is a sign that he’s got the confidence, fitness, and intellect to ride for GC in the world’s biggest race. If you remove that 1:21 that Landa lost in the crosswinds on stage 7, he’d still be in 4th. So, to be fair, Mikel Landa finished in the position that he was destined to finish. Good on you, Mikel Landa.
The bad news: Landa’s probably not going to win the Tour de France, so long as Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič are around.