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Tour de France

Tour de France roundtable: Unpacking the most dramatic Tour stage in recent memory

The Tour de France's final time trial was not short of drama, with tragedies and tribulations throughout the GC. We share our opinions and memories from the stunning stage 20 to La Planche des Belles Filles.

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The Tour de France came to the most dramatic of conclusions on the final day of GC action Saturday.

Tadej Pogačar blazed through a red-hot time trial to snatch the race victory from Primož Roglič on the unforgiving slopes of La Planche des Belles Filles in one of the most dramatic 20 minutes of pro cycling in recent memory.

Away from the Slovenian duo, there were tragedies and tribulations throughout the top GC riders, with Australian veteran Richie Porte taking third in his very last Tour as a protected team leader before leaving Trek-Segafredo to ride as as domestique.

Let’s break down the emotions, expectations and breakthroughs of a breathtaking time trial – time to roundtable!

Take us inside your brain as you watched that time trial?

Fred Dreier (@freddreier): To be perfectly honest, I was bummed out for Primož Roglič. You could tell after a few minutes that he wasn’t having a great day, and once he got on the climb his usual smooth, high-cadence pedaling style was replaced by a hurky-jerky motion that did not speak to a good day. I think Roglič deserved to win, as his Jumbo-Visma squad was obviously the best in the race. But hey, you still have to cap things off with a strong ITT, and he just didn’t do it. So, I honestly had to turn off the live stream a few times because I was so disappointed for the guy.

Jim Cotton (@jim_c_1985): It rapidly turned from an “oh, Roglič’s not going so great on this flat bit” semi-complacency to mounting shock and intrigue as I watched the man in the yellow skinsuit climb all over his bike on the climb to La Planches des Belles Filles. And then it became dumbstruck car-crash television as Roglic’s Tour de France title slipped from his grasp with four kilometers to go. I almost couldn’t watch as he turned ever more palid through the final kilometers. It took me a few seconds to compute the result when it was all over.

Dan Cavallari (@browntiedan): I really wasn’t thinking much of anything about it until Wout van Aert crossed the finish line. Then it started looking like Jumbo-Visma was going to have a good day. Then Dumoulin crossed and it looked like a great day. But mostly I was waiting to see what happened with Richie Porte (which would have been a phenomenal story on its own). As it came crashing down around Roglič, I was disappointed and sad for him, but Pogacar earned every bit of his win. Roglič didn’t lose the Tour today; Pogačar won it.

Did you expect this time trial to deliver so much drama?

Pogacar’s time trial turnaround was one of the most dramatic results in Tour history. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images.

Dan: I expected drama around Porte, and I thought Pogačar could certainly take time on Roglič, but Roglic is no slouch on the TT. I certainly wasn’t expecting the fireworks we saw today. I don’t see how anyone could have predicted that.

Fred: I expected the drama to be in the fight for the podium and the top-10 placings. And, to be sure, those battles were very compelling, it’s just that the fight for yellow turned out to be the biggest one of the day.

Jim: I must admit, I had written it off a little bit. I was definitely interested to see if Porte could pull himself onto the podium and if Landa would make his customary mess of a race against the clock, but I thought the 57-second gap between Roglič and Pogačar at the start of the day meant the one-two was finished business. How wrong I was … I won’t forget that race in a long time.

How fitting is it that Porte finishes out his career as a protected GC rider with his best-ever Tour result?

Jim: Porte gets a lot of stick about only ever winning on Willunga or having some sort of disaster that writes off his Tour de France hopes in the first 10 days, but you’ve got to hand it to the guy, he’s persistent and tenacious. This was his 10th Tour start and career-best performance, and he sure deserves it. He was aggressive and ambitious, and put in one heck of a time trial to overthrow López. Cheapeau Richie!

Dan: I was really pulling for Porte to finish on the podium, and while I was doubtful about whether he could pull it off, I knew he’d come close. His performance today absolutely made a podium spot well-deserved for him. Had the fireworks between the two Slovenians not occurred, Porte’s win would have been exciting enough.

Fred: It is a well-deserved result. Porte missed the birth of his second child to race this Tour de France, and I’m psyched he can return home with a great gift for his family.