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Tour de France

Tour de France: Battles for minor GC placings light up final TT

While the battle for the yellow jersey looked all but done, there were still plenty of opportunities for the GC riders to gain and lose time in final Tour de France time trial.

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The final Tour de France time trial didn’t produce the massive upheaval of 2020, but there was still plenty to be lost and won.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) rode a slightly more conservative race than he did in the first time trial and gave away some 25 seconds to Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) in the overall standings. There were no concerns for the Slovenian, however, as he went into the stage with a very comfortable margin over the Dane.

Behind Pogačar, there were a number of battles raging down the standings.

Also read: Tour de France stage 20: Wout van Aert crushes vineyard time trial

Vingegaard had to hold off Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers), who started the day just six seconds behind him to maintain his breakthrough second place overall. Meanwhile, Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Ben O’Connor (Ag2r-Citroën) were going head-to-head for the honor of fourth place.

Further down, there were opportunities to climb the standings or slip down.

GC standings after stage 20

  1. Tadej Pogačar 80:16:59
  2. Jonas Vingegaard +5:20
  3. Richard Carapaz +7:03
  4. Ben O’Connor +10:02
  5. Wilco Kelderman +10:13
  6. Enric Mas +11:43
  7. Alexey Lutsenko +12:23
  8. Guillaume Martin +15:33
  9. Pello Bilbao +16:04
  10. Rigoberto Uran +18:34

Same but different

For all the hope and expectations at the start of the day, the time trial ultimately delivered no changes in the top 10. The highest swap in positions in the overall standings was Bauke Mollema leapfrogging Sergio Henao to take 20th place.

Despite the lack of movement, the internal battles within the top-10 provided some compelling watching.

In the end, it was probably too much to expect Carapaz to make any headway against Vingegaard given the Jumbo-Visma rider’s performances against the clock earlier in the race. Indeed, Vingegaard put a whopping 90 seconds into Carapaz over the 30.8 kilometers.

It crowned off what was a brilliant, and unexpected, Tour de France performance for Vingegaard. The 24-year-old has really stepped up to the plate since his team leader Primož Roglič was forced to abandon in the first week and has put himself forward as a future grand tour winner.

Despite losing a chunk of time to Vingegaard, Carapaz held firmly onto his third place and made history as the first rider from Ecuador to take a Tour de France podium. Though he would have had much bigger desires going into the race three weeks ago, Carapaz will be somewhat happy with his result.

The contest between O’Connor and Kelderman delivered a little more tension than the one further up the standings. Kelderman, a decent time trialist on his day, had just 32 seconds to make on O’Connor to climb the GC.

It was a very achievable goal for Kelderman.

Kelderman put in a far better ride than he did in the first TT, but it was far from the performance that we would usually expect from the Dutchman. Kelderman got painfully close surpassing O’Connor, taking 21 seconds on the Australian, but it wasn’t enough in the end.

Like Vingegaard, the result is a huge breakthrough performance for O’Connor, who looked like he was down and out in the GC contest going into the first major mountain stage. His breakaway win in Tignes on stage 9 put him back in the mix for a top result.

Ag2r-Citroën management will be rubbing their hands after his ride and wondering what is possible with a full-on tilt at the GC.

Positions were held up and down the GC, and even Rigoberto Urán could do nothing to overhaul a Pello Bilbao that spent much of his TT grappling with his radio. It was a quiet end to the Tour for Urán after holding his own behind Pogačar for the opening two weeks.

Ahead of them, Enric Mas, Alexey Lutsenko, and Guillaume Martin held onto solid results overall. Mas may feel as though more could have been done and will be ruing his difficult day in Andorra at the end of the second week. The other two should be comparatively pleased with how their race’s turned out in the end.