Wout van Aert won Stage 20 of the 2021 Tour de France, an individual time trial from Libourne to Saint-Emilion, but Tadej Pogacar retained the yellow jersey and remains in position to win the world's most famous cycling race for the second straight year Sunday in Paris.
Van Aert posted a time of 35 minutes, 53 seconds to win the Tour's penultimate stage. Kasper Asgreen (36:14) finished second, while Jonas Vingegaard (36:25) rounded out Saturday's podium.
The 26-year-old Belgian also won Stage 11.
Tour de France™ @LeTour
🎙 First words from 🇧🇪 <a href="https://twitter.com/WoutvanAert?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WoutvanAert</a> after winning his first Tour de France TT! ⬇️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TDF2021?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TDF2021</a> <a href="https://t.co/Vd37g2Z5Lt">pic.twitter.com/Vd37g2Z5Lt</a>
Pogacar (36:50) finished eighth, a result more than good enough to maintain the top spot.
Here's a look at the top five in the general classification ahead of Sunday's finale:
- 1. Tadej Pogacar
- 2. Jonas Vingegaard, +5:20
- 3. Richard Carapaz, +7:03
- 4. Ben O'Connor, +10:02
- 5. Wilco Kelderman, +10:13
In September, Pogacar entered Stage 20 of the 2020 Tour facing a 57-second deficit behind Slovenian countryman Primoz Roglic. He outpaced the field by one minute, 21 seconds in a remarkable time-trial performance to take over the yellow jersey and put the finishing touches on his title the next day.
He didn't need an incredible comeback this year. He took over the top spot in the standings after the eighth stage and built his lead to a virtually insurmountable five minutes, 45 seconds entering Saturday's time trial, which was the Tour's final competitive stage before Sunday's ceremonial journey to Paris.
The 22-year-old UAE Team Emirates rider had eliminated most of the remaining drama in the Tour by winning Stages 17 and 18.
Pogacar, who will represent Slovenia in the men's road race at the Tokyo Olympics next Saturday, pushed back Friday against a question about whether there were illegal materials on his bike after fellow riders described a "strange noise" coming from the back wheels of four teams' equipment, per Barry Ryan of Cycling News.
"I don't know. We don't hear any noise," Pogacar said. "We don't use anything illegal. It's all Campagnolo materials, Bora. I don't know what to say."
He'll enjoy a celebratory arrival to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday before hopping on a plane to Tokyo the next day.
"We will go on Monday, with the plane, because I checked Google maps and you cannot go by car," Pogacar said, per Ryan. "It doesn't find the route, so we'll go in the plane, yes."
He's a strong bet to win the Tour de France and an Olympic gold medal in the span of six days. Van Aert and Roglic will headline his competition in Tokyo.