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2020 Tour de France wrap-up

Grand Tour personal bests for Pogačar, Porte, Bennett and Houle

Photo by: Sirotti

From the depths of the coronavirus pandemic and the four and a half month recess in the race schedule came the towering heights of the 2020 Tour de France. Some doubted that the race would make it to Paris and it’s a triumph that it did.

Tadej Pogačar is the second youngest Tour winner of all time. His victory came with a gripping, legendary stage triumph. After five years of Sky/Ineos stranglehold and what looked like a changing of the guard of stultifying team domination in this edition, the 21-year-old Slovenian seized the crown from a compatriot mostly on his own.

But Pogačar isn’t the only rider who should feel great about his Tour. This is a banner Grand Tour for Richie Porte, Canada’s Hugo Houle and…Carlos Verona. Here’s a look at the top-10, the jersey winners and some of the disappointments of the 107th Tour de France.

1) Tadej Pogačar (SLV/UAD) Pogačar is IT. He is the new sensation in Grand Tour racing. In his only Grand Tour starts, last season’s Vuelta a España and this year’s Tour, he has placed third after winning three stages and earned the yellow jersey after winning three stages. That’s incredible. The young Slovenian had a decent team in France but he had to make up a deficit of 1:25 to Roglič after getting caught in Stage 7’s split—he took back 40 seconds the next day—and face the Jumbo-Visma machine mostly on his own. He’s already a Tour legend after the way he won: dominating the final test and setting the climbing record on Planche des Belles Filles in the process.

2) Primož Roglič (SLV/TJV) +0:59 You have to feel for the former ski jumper. One of the three best Grand Tour riders in the world, his record leading up to this race has been fourth in the Tour, third in the Giro, and first in last year’s Vuelta. The trajectory of his career seemed to be pulling him towards the yellow jersey. His squad was utterly commanding and he never put a foot wrong, but he still got beat by his younger compatriot. The sight of him on Planche des Belles Filles’ last kilometre, whey-faced, his helmet pushed back sloppily on his head, realizing what was happening to him, is one not soon to be forgotten.

Roglic was out of sorts on La Planche Des Belles Filles.

3) Richie Porte (AUS/TFS) +3:30 Porte must be walking on air. He finally gets on a Grand Tour podium after years of disappointment. Porte started his Grand Tour career with 7th place and the young rider classification at the 2010 Giro d’Italia, but until this year he had only been in the top-10 once more in 13 starts, and crashed out of the Tour two years running on the ninth stage. The 35-year-old can retire happy now.

4) Mikel Landa (ESP/TBM) +5:58 Landa is a superbly consistent Grand Tour rider: fourth, seventh, fourth, sixth and fourth since the 2017 Tour. His Bahrain-Merida team was among the strongest in the race and he’ll be pleased that Damiano Caruso joined him in the top-10 after Saturday’s time trial.

5) Enric Mas (ESP/MOV) +6:07 This was a very important race for Mas. He had to establish himself as THE reliable Grand Tour rider at Movistar, especially after his disappointing 22nd spot in last year’s Tour while still at Deceuninck-Quick Step. Fifth in the 2020 Tour is probably on par with his runner-up spot in the 2018 Vuelta. He was active in the last week, trying to make things happen.

Considering that Movistar’s best placed rider in the 2019 edition was also sixth, Enric Mas showed he’s a worthy successor to Landa and Quintana.

6) Angel Lopez (COL/AST) +6:47 The GC plummet Superman took on Saturday perhaps sours what was a good Tour debut for Lopez, one of the stars of the Alps, where he took a well-deserved win on the Col de la Loze. Lopez is consistent like Landa in Grand Tours: he’s never placed below eighth in seven completed races.

7) Tom Dumoulin (NLD/TVJ) +7:48 Jumbo-Visma will have to be satisfied with two riders in the top-7. Dumoulin wasn’t as conspicuous as Wout Van Aert and Sepp Kuss in the Jumbo work gang, but he was crucial to Roglič’s campaign. Dumoulin’s Grand Tour record: Giro win, two runner-up spots, two other top-10 places and five DNF’s in twelve starts.

8) Rigoberto Uran (COL/EF1) +8:02
Eighth is Uran’s worst Grand Tour result in the five most recent ones that he has finished. Like Quintana, Lopez and Bernal, he was a Colombian battling for the podium behind the Slovenians after Le Puy Mary on Stage 13. None of them made it, and Lopez was top Colombian.

9) Adam Yates (GBR/MTS) +9:25 Memories of a stint in yellow will buoy Yates’ spirits after losing a couple of places in Saturday’s TT. Ninth is his best Grand Tour since the same placing in the 2017 Giro; between those top-10 spots his best was 29th in four three-week-long races. Ineos got a good look at their 2021 teammate.

10) Damiano Caruso (ITA/TBM) +14:03 Caruso ghosted his way into the top-10 with a fine TT as Alejandro Valverde was having a poor one. He has now finished in the top-10 of all three Grand Tours, although the last time was in 2015. With Landa fourth and Pello Bilbao 16th, Bahrain-Merida came third in the team classification.

Green Points Jersey:
Sam Bennett (Ireland/Deceuninck-Quick Step), winner of Stages 10 and 21, is a worthy successor of Peter Sagan, who seems to have lost some speed and certainly lost key points when he was relegated on Stage 11. Bennett raced with cunning and good team strength around him, and wouldn’t be deterred even though Sagan’s team tried to shake him and Caleb Ewan on a couple of stages. The first Irish winner since Sean Kelly in 1989.

Polka Dot Jersey: Pogačar. Pog pulled his dots back from Richard Carapaz on the La Planche des Belles Filles. Nothing for Ineos this time but Michal Kwiatkowski’s win.

This season Ineos would have to be content with this lovely moment at La Roche-sur-Foron.

White Jersey: Pogačar. He’s the first to win yellow, polka dots and white.

Team Competition: Movistar. Movistar retained their beloved team title, now having taken five of the last six competitions. Mas’s sixth was essential to the triumph, Alejandro tumbled out of the top-10 to 12th at the team trial and third Movistar rider on GC was…not Marc Soler, but Carlos Verona in 19th, his best ever Grand Tour in seven finishes. Although the team standings don’t show it, Sunweb was one of the best squads, with three wins. UAE-Emirate had four stage wins, Quick Step and Jumbo-Visma also had three, and Lotto-Soudal and Astana had two.

Most Combative: Marc Hirschi (Switzerland/Sunweb) was the revelation of the Tour. Winner of Stage 12 after a heartbreaking runner-up spot on Stage 2 and third behind the Slovenians on Stage 9, he seemed to always be in the mix, and was even in a polka dot jersey rumble with Richard Carapaz on Stage 18 before he crashed out of it. At 22, the 2018 U23 World Champion–Pogačar was seventh that day–Hirschi is definitely part of New Wave.

Disappointments: After the abject shock of Primož following the chrono, the biggest disappointment seen in this Tour was Egan Bernal’s withdrawal. He’ll come back for sure. Nairo Quintana was in the Colombian Podium Block under the Slovenians after Stage 13 but crashes, rashes and other obstacles destroyed his bid to win the Tour, and he would have to be satisfied with 17th, his second worst Grand Tour result. The French watched their GC favourites Thibaut Pinot suffer all the way to Paris, eventually finishing 29th, and Romain Bardet abandon after suffering a concussion. Even though he took a win, there was no Julian Alaphilippe thrill ride his season. After three polka dot jerseys in a row, the French missed out on the KOM. For the first time since 2015 there were no Frenchmen in the top-10, although there were three in the top-20—that and two stage wins will have to do until the next edition.

Quintana’s Tour bid unraveled in the third week; 17th is his second worst Grand Tour result in 15 starts.

47) Hugo Houle (Canada/Astana) +2:39:54 Canada’s sole representative in France had his best ever Grand Tour, slotting in under two teammates in the GC, Harold Tejada and Stage 6 winner Andrey Lutsenko. Houle also finished in the daily top-20 seven times.