Roglic, 30, had led the Tour since his ninth stage, and he never seemed to be threatened. He was supported by his teammates from the Jumbo-Visma squad, who maintained a fast pace while protecting their leader at the head of the field, riding alongside him as he kept Pogacar from breaking free day after day.
But as Roglic was riding alone on Saturday he collapsed as much as Pogacar shone, and by the end of the stage their positions had changed: Roglic, who was leading by 57 seconds in the overall standings before the time trial , was found 59 seconds. behind Pogacar.
“I just went full throttle from the bottom up,” Pogacar said of the final hill of the time trial, where he cemented his victory in the stage. The commentary embodied both his performance on Saturday and his run throughout the pandemic-delayed three-week race trip across France.
The duel between Roglic and Pogacar was joined on the hills of the Massif Central earlier this month, but it fully unfolded in the French Alps when the race entered its final week on Tuesday. By then, it had become clear that the winner of the Tour de France 2020 would be one of the two men.
Slovenian flags have become more prominent on the sides of the road in recent days, as Roglic and Pogacar continued to stalk each other in the mountainous landscapes of France, overlapping side by side or behind each other but never too far away .
Roglic was one of the favorites in the race from the start, and Pogacar was no stranger. Winner of the 2019 Tour of California, he lit up the Tour de France this year in several mountain stages, winning two of them as he tried in vain to gain time on Roglic.
Yet whenever Pogacar tried to leave, Roglic remained positioned right on his rear wheel. “I’m not doing Tadej any favors,” said Roglic last Sunday, after finishing a few seconds behind his compatriot in stage 15.