Tadej Pogacar Wins 2021 Tour de France; Wout van Aert Wins Stage 21 Race

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 18, 2021

Tour de France winner Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey, celebrates as he crosses the finish line of the twenty-first and last stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) with start in Chatou and finish on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France,Sunday, July 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
AP Photo/Daniel Cole

For the second straight year, Tadej Pogacar is the Tour de France champion.

Pogacar rode to a breezy final stage Sunday, earning the 2021 Tour de France title by 5:20 over Jonas VingegaardRichard Carapaz, Ben O'Connor and Wilco Kelderman rounded out the top five. 

Wout van Aert rode to victory in the 21st stage in a thrilling sprint to the finish line. He barely edged out Jasper Philipsen and Mark Cavendish for the final stage win of the race.

Tour de France™ @LeTour

A slow-motion view of 🇧🇪 <a href="https://twitter.com/WoutvanAert?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WoutvanAert</a>'s Champs-Elysée victory 💨<br><br>Victoire de 🇧🇪 <a href="https://twitter.com/WoutvanAert?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WoutvanAert</a> sur les Champs-Elysées ! 💨<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TDF2021?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TDF2021</a> <a href="https://t.co/YGcFcueTea">pic.twitter.com/YGcFcueTea</a>

Already one of the youngest Tour winners in the race's history, Pogacar is well on his way to becoming the defining rider of his generation. He already has two victories in the sport's biggest race at age 22 with no signs of stopping in sight.

"I don't know which one was more difficult; it's hard to compare," Pogacar told reporters Saturday. "Last year was less stressful. This year, there was the [yellow] jersey for two weeks and the podium and press conference every day, so it was harder off the bike, but I think they were the same to win: super hard. It was more or less the same."

Tour de France™ @LeTour

💛 Bravo <a href="https://twitter.com/TamauPogi?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TamauPogi</a>!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TDF2021?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TDF2021</a> <a href="https://t.co/V5DWoyXphp">pic.twitter.com/V5DWoyXphp</a>

Pogacar spent the last two stages simply taking his time and ensuring a safe ride to clinch the victory. Along with the yellow jersey for the general classification, Pogacar also won the polka-dot jersey for top climber and white jersey for best young cyclist. 

While last year many saw Pogacar's triumph as a surprise—he was only the leader for one stage—this time around he was far more dominant. He has already established himself as Slovenia's greatest cyclist, becoming he country's first Tour de France winner last year.

"I don't consider this the 'Pogacar era,'" Pogacar said after Stage 18. "That's just stupid in my opinion, but for sure a new era is coming.

"We see so many youngsters stepping up to the highest level and we will see a lot of battles between everybody, so many young names. The next few years will be really tough."