As with all sport, this year has been strange. The Tour was late, lacked many top riders due to an overlap in Italy and had far fewer screaming fans at the side of the road for obvious reasons.
Ask most cycling fans which Tour ended in the most dramatic manner and they’ll tell you 1989. Greg LeMond took the yellow jersey from Laurent Fignon in the final days’ time trial and won the Tour by a margin of eight seconds. What we witnessed this year was Roglič vs Pogačar; our modern equivalent.
The final day of racing before the Paris procession was a mountain time trial finishing up the brutally steep, La Planche des Belles Filles; the same finish that saw Bradley Wiggins take yellow way back in 2012.
Roglič took to the start in yellow with a fifty-seven-second buffer on Pogačar but by the finish, those time gaps had reversed. Pogačar produced the time trial of his life to win his first Tour de France at the age of just 21. He is the youngest winner in more than a century and the second youngest of all time.
Beyond the incredible finale for overall victory, this race has still been exceptionally unique. Many of the recurring themes we’ve come to know over recent years were absent, new fashions seem to be emerging and the underdogs ruled the roost.
It seems that we are seeing the end of an era for Ineos. This one team has won seven of the past eight editions of the Tour with the one exception being crashes and terrible luck entirely out of their control way back in 2014.
Peter Sagan within an identical time frame has won seven out of eight green jersey competitions. Mr consistent only failed to win in 2017 due to disqualification following a collision with Mark Cavendish. Much like Ineos, he has struggled and whilst in green for a few days, he was worlds away from his usual iron grip over the competition.
This year’s Maillot Vert competition went to Irish sprinter Sam Bennett. He is the first Irishman to wear green since Sean Kelly in 1989. Before 2020, he had never won a Tour de France stage but this year, took two including the Champs Elysees; the World Cup of sprinting.
We’ve seen a new dominant force in Jumbo-Visma, winning three stages and leading the overall for the majority of the race. They rode up the Grand Colombier in a manner that could be mistaken for an early Team Sky train. Their star-studded line up included Wout Van Aert, winner of two stages as well as a workhorse in the mountains. His form this year has truly been something to behold. Upon winning his second stage, he had raced for 18 days and won 8 times.
We’ve been dazzled by the brilliance of the young Swiss rider and ex-u23 world champion Marc Hirschi. He has shown outstanding panache and has been rewarded by a stage win, three-stage combativity awards as well as the overall combativity.
Hirschi’s Team Sunweb have racked up three stage wins, the other two courtesy of Soren Kragh Anderson having never won a grand tour stage before 2020.
The Tour can always be relied on to produce incredible racing. It’s the biggest and most famous bike race in the world and every rider feels the pressure of the stage they are performing on. This makes the races faster and more brutal than any other fixture throughout the year.
This year’s Tour was something special. The riders who flourished were the ones who managed to push through and push hard when times were tough as they were for all of us. They got the work done inside and they had their reward on the world’s biggest stage.
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