Tour de France

Tour de France (34)

Jonas Vingegaard declared his impending Tour de France title win is the "biggest in cycling" after increasing his lead on the penultimate stage.

The Dane's second place behind Team Jumbo-Visma team-mate Wout van Aert in Saturday's stage 20 time-trial saw him add eight seconds to his advantage over Tadej Pogacar, meaning he has a lead of over three-and-a-half minutes heading into Sunday's final stage.

Vingegaard is set to secure his first Tour title in Paris, and with tears in his eyes, he outlined what it means to him, especially after finishing second behind Pogacar last year.

"It means everything to me," he said. "It's really incredible. It's hard for me to put words on it. It's the biggest win in cycling.

"Since last year, I always believed I could do it. It's a relief that I did. I'm just so happy and proud."

Vingegaard detailed how determined the team was to right the wrongs of two years ago, when Pogacar overturned the lead of another Jumbo-Visma rider, Primoz Roglic, to pip him to the yellow jersey.

"What happened two years ago, we always thought about it and we didn't want it to happen again," he said. "We just wanted to go for it today. [The emotion] just shows how close everyone is in this team. It's a special thing we have."

Pogacar was reflective after finishing third on Saturday, but anticipates many more battles between himself and Vingegaard.

"It's been a good three weeks, with many ups and downs, with lots of bad luck for my team, but the battle between me and Jonas for the yellow jersey has been very special," Pogacar said.

"I think we have some very interesting next two or three years ahead of us. Jonas has stepped up his game this year. I'm motivated and looking forward to the next challenges."

Jonas Vingegaard is poised to win his first Tour de France title on Sunday after all-but finishing off the job in a stage 20 time trial that was won by Wout van Aert.

Vingegaard's Team Jumbo–Visma team-mate Van Aert produced a stunning ride to win the 40.7km stage from Lacapelle-Marival to Rocamadour on Saturday.

Dane Vingegaard - who went into penultimate stage with a near three-and-a-half minute lead over rival Tadej Pogacar - crossed the line 19 seconds slower than Van Aert in second spot, but eight quicker than the third-placed two-time defending champion.

Vingegaard is set to secure the general classification title in Paris and was understandably emotional after finishing the time trial, embracing his wife as the scale of his achievement sunk in.

It could have been a very different story though, as Vingegaard came within inches of crashing in the closing stages, with his tyres clipping a grass verge and almost hitting a wall.

Geraint Thomas, who sits third in the GC standings, also put in a strong showing, finishing in fourth place.

Christophe Laporte became the first Frenchman to win on this year's Tour de France after sprinting to victory on stage 19, while Jonas Vingegaard edged closer to general classification glory.…
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Michael Matthews held off a challenge from Alberto Bettiol to win stage 14 of the Tour de France, while Jonas Vingegaard kept Tadej Pogacar's challenge for the yellow jersey at arm's length.

The 192.5km race from Saint-Etienne to Mende saw a leading group of Matthews, Luis Leon Sanchez and Felix Grossschartner pull away with a few kilometres remaining, only for the chasing group to reach them inside the final 3km.

Bettiol then produced an impressive effort to not only catch Matthews, but overtake him, though the Australian came back to ultimately take the victory, his first in the Tour de France in five years.

The Team BikeExchange–Jayco rider had already finished second twice in this year's tour at Longwy and Lausanne, but showed immense grit to climb to the win on Saturday, producing a second wind to fight off the challenge of Bettiol and go one better.

Matthews achieved an average speed of 45.6km/h in the last 52km, and said after his win: "“I think it's pretty much the story of my career. I've had so many rollercoasters up and down but my wife and my daughter kept believing in me. How many times have I been smashed down but I always get back up? 

"This was for my daughter today; she's four years old and I really just wanted to show her why I'm away all the time and what I do it for. And today was that day.

"Today was that day. I wanted to show everybody I'm not just a sprinter. I can ride like I rode today."

The battle for the yellow jersey saw Pogacar try to pull away from Vingegaard to make up some of the 2:22 second deficit on the General Classification leader, but the duo eventually finished with the same time, over 12 minutes behind Matthews.

The efforts of both against one another did see them pull away from Geraint Thomas, who remains in third place in the GC, though lost 17 seconds on the two ahead of him.

Mixed day for Aussie riders

It has been a bad time of late for Lotto Soudal rider Caleb Ewan, with a nightmare Giro d'Italia earlier in the year and a Tour de France to so far forget, including a crash during Friday's stage 13 leaving him injured.

The Australian did not have quite the Saturday his compatriot Matthews enjoyed, but Ewan's mission was simply to make it through within the cut-off time, which he was able to do, albeit nearly 40 minutes after Matthews had sealed victory.

STAGE RESULTS

1. Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange–Jayco) 4:30:53
2. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education–Easypost) +0:15
3. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +0:34
4. Marc Soler (UAE–Team Emirates) +0:50
5. Patrick Konrad (BORA–hansgrohe) +0:58

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 55:31:01
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) +2:22
3. Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:43

Points Classification

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 333
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) 164
3. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 155

King of the Mountains

1. Simon Geschke (Cofidis) 46
2. Louis Meintjes (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) 39
3. Neilson Powless (EF Education–Easypost) 37

Four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has "no regrets" after he fought to finish third on stage 12 up the Alpe d'Huez.

The stage was won by fellow Brit Tom Pidcock on his Tour de France debut, but Froome's third-place finish was a brilliant side story in another engaging day.

After a huge crash at the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine, Froome was left in intensive care with multiple serious injuries.

The incident threatened to end his career, but after a long recovery Froome has now achieved his best Tour de France stage finish since 2018.

Having been part of a five-man breakaway over the penultimate ascent, Froome managed to stick with the lead group right the way up the famous final climb of Thursday's stage.

Despite finishing over two minutes behind Pidcock, the Israel-Premier Tech rider was understandably proud of his performance, and told reporters: "No regrets today.

"Naturally, I would have loved to have put my hands up and tried to win the stage.

"But I gave it absolutely everything I had today and I don't have any regrets.

"I think where I've come from the last three years, battling back after my accident, to finish third on one of the hardest stages on the tour, I can be really happy with that.

"I'm going to keep pushing, I don't know where my limits are. I'm going to keep trying to improve and hopefully get back to winning ways again."

Tom Pidcock marked his Tour de France debut with a stunning ride on stage 12, while race leader Jonas Vingegaard held off Tadej Pogacar.

Up the famous Alpe d'Huez, on Bastille Day, Olympic gold medallist Pidcock stormed to a remarkable, record-setting triumph – his first Grand Tour stage win.

Having attacked with 10 kilometres of the climb remaining, approaching the culmination of a 165.5km ride on Thursday, the 22-year-old Yorkshireman saw off Louis Meintjes to claim a remarkable triumph.

In the process, Pidcock – who was part of a five-man breakaway that took a six-minute time gap to the foot of the final ascent – became the youngest stage winner up the Alpe d'Huez in Le Tour history, breaking the record held by Lucho Herrera since 1984.

Yet Pidcock's tale was not the only incredible story of a quite sensational stage, with four-time champion Chris Froome claiming third, having planted himself in the breakaway group. While the yellow jersey is far out of the 37-year-old's reach, his performance echoed the form he was able to show in the years prior to his serious crash in 2019.

Behind the lead group, the fascinating general classification tussle between new leader Vingegaard and two-time defending champion Pogacar unfolded, hinting at the drama that is sure to come over the coming stages.

Pogacar twice attacked late on, yet Jumbo-Visma's Vingegaard kept pace.

The GC rivals pushed on for a sprint finish, with Pogacar nosing ahead to claim fifth place, though he was unable to damage Vingegaard, while Pidcock's INEOS Grenadier's team-mate Geraint Thomas, who conquered the mountain while wearing yellow in 2018, put himself into the top three in the overall standings.

But the day belonged to Pidcock, who after ploughing on to victory through thousands of vociferous spectators, said: "That was unbelievable, one of the craziest experiences ever. I can hardly hear anything, I've probably got hearing damage!

"That was ridiculous, at many points I thought I was going to get taken out."

Team GB's golden boy a speed demon

Pidcock is a star on the mountain bike, and those technical skills came in handy on the descent of the Col du Galibie, which preceded the climb up Alpe d'Huez. He clocked a top speed of 100km/h on the way down, while he averaged 19.7km/h on his way up to the summit finish.

"That is a record, I've never been over 100k before. It helps when there's a race to go for, doesn't it?" he said. 

"I'm lucky that I can descend or I wouldn't have won today. I don't think there was any way of me getting away at the start of the stage but I knew if the break was close enough at the top, I could go across on the descent because it was pretty twisty. I'm lucky Froomey was in front, we worked well together."

Froome, who won his first Tour de France when Pidcock was just 13, said: "He was flying down the descents today. His bike handling probably came in handy, there were a few times where I held back a bit because I was definitely at the limit."

STAGE RESULTS

1. Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers) 4:55:24
2. Louis Meintjes (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) +0:48
3. Chris Froome (Israel–Premier Tech) +2:06
4. Neilson Powless (EF Education–EasyPost) +2:29
5. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) +3:23

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 46:28:46
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) +2:22
3. Geraint Thomas (INEOS Grenadiers) +2:26

Points Classification

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 313
2. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) 159
3. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 155

King of the Mountains

1. Simon Geschke (Cofidis) 43
2. Louis Meintjes (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux) 39
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) 36

An exciting finish to Stage 10 of the Tour de France saw Magnus Cort finish ahead of Nick Schultz by a matter of inches in Megeve.

With under three kilometres left, Schultz and Matteo Jorgenson caught up with Luis Leon Sanchez at the front, only for the chasing pack, including Cort, to also reach them in the closing stages.

After a few attempted to break away, it was Schultz and Cort who ultimately did so, with the victor uncertain as they both crossed the line.

Replays showed that Cort narrowly took it, and the Dane said following the race after his second Tour de France victory that it was the lure of another stage win on the tour that motivated him to push harder.

"Unbelievable," the EF Education-EasyPost rider said. "I was on the limit for so long on this climb, and luckily I had [Alberto] Bettiol up front and he was really strong, which meant I could sit on, and save some energy.

"I was losing the group a couple of times in the last few kilometres. Suddenly it was all back together and I was able to take it in the sprint.

"[The win] was huge. For me, my type of rider, it can't be any bigger than this... In my first tour I won a stage and I've been a few times without. It's unbelievable to do it again.

"When we entered the runway and I could see things coming back together, I could see the podium and the logo of the Tour de France, I thought 'I have to take this, no matter the price.'"

The 148.5-kilometre stage was always likely to be dominated by a breakaway of some sort, with 25 riders doing so, including Lennard Kamna who moved into the virtual yellow jersey for a brief period.

While Tadej Pogacar lost time in the overall classification, he remained ahead atop the GC by 11 seconds, having understandably ridden a conservative race after losing UAE-Emirates Team member George Bennett for the rest of the tour due to COVID-19.

Protest almost halts Tour de France in its tracks  

The race was briefly halted with 36km still to go as protestors demonstrated in the middle of the road. The leader at the time, Bettiol, was given a new start when it resumed, with the 24 chasers and then the peloton following.

It was not the first confusing moment of the day, with the race's start also delayed due to Cofidis rider Benjamin Thomas having an issue with his shoes.

STAGE RESULTS

1. Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost) 3:18:50
2. Nick Schultz (Team BikeExchange-Jayco) same time
3. Luis Leon Sanchez (Bahrain Victorious) +0:07
4. Matteo Jorgenson (Movistar) +0:08
5. Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) +0:10

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS 

General Classification

1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) 37:11:28
2. Lennard Kamna (BORA-Hansgrohe) +0:11
3. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +0:39

Points Classification

1. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) 284
2. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) 149
3. Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) 139

King of the Mountains

1. Simon Geschke (Cofidis) 19
2. Bob Jungels (AG2R Citroen) 18
3. Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) 14

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