The youngest winner of the Tour de France in a century rode into the city of light at sunset on Sunday, looking every inch the awestruck kid, as Tadej Pogacar became the first Slovenian to win the yellow jersey. –Jeremy Whittle, The Guardian

Last minute victory!

By Roger Childs

Tour winners are usually experienced and hardened cyclists who have many years of international competition under their belts. Biking more than 3480kms in 21 stages over three weeks in a variety of terrain, including several mountain stages to over 2000m, is not for the faint-hearted. So it is incredible that Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, aged 21, has pulled off the victory in his first Tour. However, up until the 20th stage his compatriot. Primoz Roglic, had been the yellow jersey holder for two weeks, with Pogacar (pronounced po-gar-cha) second.

However. in the penultimate stage — the 37 km time trial race against the clock where the riders cycle as individuals — Pogacar seized his chance and beat Roglic to take the lead by just under a minute. So the Slovenian youngster has just the one day in yellow, riding into Paris. He only had to stay on his bike and finish on the Champs-Élysées to win the most prestigious event in world cycling, which he duly did.

Amazing success

There are four competitions and trophies for the Tour –

  • the yellow jersey for the overall winner
  • the green jersey for the top sprinter
  • the polka dot jersey for the king the mountains
  • the white jersey for the best young rider under 23.

Sam Bennett from Ireland won the sprint title from Peter Sagan who had won it on eight previous occasions. Bennett also has the satisfaction of winning the final stage in Paris on Sunday. Incredibly, the other three titles all went to Pogacar. It’s the first time ever that this feat has been achieved. The Slovenian’s overall time for the Tour was 87 hours 21 minutes and four seconds. A disappointed Roglic was second and the evergreen Australian, Richie Porte, was third.

Subdued celebrations in Paris

Normally for the final stage in Paris there are tens of thousands of spectators lining the Champs-Élysées cheering on the cyclists as the pass the Arc de Triomphe, Cleopatra’s Needle, La Place de la Concorde, and Joan of Arc who watches the riders emerge from the one tunnel on the course. However, in Covid-lockdown-ridden France in 2020 there were just a few thousand spectators scattered around the course and plenty of police. 

The legendary event had started in Nice on August 29 and the various stages all took place in southern and eastern France. The Tour usually features in late June and July, however the organisers and spectators were delighted to be able to hold it at all. (For all the podium ceremonies during the 21 stages all the people on stage wore masks.) Even though the crowds were limited in the capital, it was well supported in the towns and mountains of the provinces.

However, above all, the 2020 Tour de France will long be remembered for the great achievements of Tadej Pogacar who on the last day of his 21st year won an unprecedented three titles, included the big one — overall winner by 59 seconds.