Tadej Pogacar on his way to victory as Wout van Aert wins the time trial – .

Tadej Pogacar on his way to victory as Wout van Aert wins the time trial – .

Tadej Pogacar is the reigning champion and set to win his second Tour at just 22

Tadej Pogacar is set to win his second Tour de France after finishing seventh in the time trial of the penultimate stage.

Jumbo-Visma’s Wout van Aert won stage 20, his second stage victory this year.

Pogacar, 22, will officially win the yellow jersey at the end of the last stage on Sunday in Paris, where – by tradition – the leader is not challenged.

Defending UAE-Team Emirates champion Pogacar is five minutes 20 seconds ahead of second-placed Jonas Vingegaard.

Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers is expected to finish third, seven minutes three seconds later.

“I’m super happy to be done – it happened so fast,” said Pogacar. “There was so much support on the course, I was enjoying every moment, even though I was in pain because it was very hot.

“I can’t describe it. I was going all the way but it was totally different from the fifth stage [another time trial, won by Pogacar] where there was a lot more adrenaline. But today I did my best – I was prepared, but not so well in the legs.

“I can’t compare – last year was something else. This year is just different. ”

A hot day in the saddle

The time trial took place on a hot day near Bordeaux and for many tired riders it showed.

Former Tour winner Geraint Thomas, who sacrificed any potential chance of victory in the overall standings after falling early in the three-week race, returned 37th.

The Briton said: “It is certainly the most difficult Tour I have done mentally. I enjoyed today – it’s easy.

“You have to give your all. I had a good team around me. Make no mistake, there have been some dark times. “

How did Pogacar dominate this race?

Pogacar’s performance as the Tour approached was compelling. He single-handedly beat a string of fit riders – several of them from Ineos, including Adam Yates at the UAE Tour in February.

The first week of this race was a controversial and crash-strewn affair, with Pogacar seemingly the only man to avoid trouble as rivals Roglic and Thomas withdrew from competition.

There were some attacks early in the race, in hopes of upsetting his team, but since winning the fifth stage of the time trial, Pogacar has not looked back.

Attacks on him in the mountains were rare, and when runners such as the surprising Vingegaard – riding for Jumbo-Visma – ventured to the front of the pack, Pogacar followed them – making a strong point that he could gather the more situations itself.

More soon.

Full stage results


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