Pogacar crowns dominant repetition in France

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Tadej Pogacar wore the yellow jersey in Paris to win his second consecutive Tour de France on Sunday after an exhausting three-week odyssey that he sometimes passed off as a leisure ride.

Pogacar’s repeated success in the biggest cycling event was a story of total domination, prompting a question: at 22, how many more laps can the Slovenian win?

Pogacar won his first title in September when he became the youngest Tour champion in 116 years. He is now the youngest double winner of the race.

Unlike last year, when as a rookie he had to wait until the penultimate stage to take the lead in the general classification, Pogacar was untouchable in this race.

His team were better equipped and better prepared, and Pogacar assumed the favorite coat with the ease of a seasoned veteran. His supremacy was such that in addition to his overall victory, he also won the title of King of the Mountain and Best Young Rider.

UAE leader Team Emirates successfully defended his huge 5-minute and 20-second lead over runner-up Jonas Vingegaard in the final, mostly ceremonial stage to the Champs-Elysées on Sunday. Richard Carapaz finished third overall, 7:03 off the pace.

Vingegaard and Carapaz were the only riders to finish within 10 minutes of the double champion.

“I did my best, to the maximum, as I always do, and that was enough,” said Pogacar.

Wout van Aert won stage 21 in a mass sprint. This prevented Mark Cavendish from breaking Belgian great Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage victories, which the British sprinter equaled earlier in the race. Cavendish, who consoled himself with the green jersey for top sprinter, hit the handlebars in frustration after van Aert pushed Jasper Philipsen over the line. Cavendish was third.

The mostly flat 67 mile stage started in Chatou just outside Paris and ended with eight laps up and down the famous avenue.

Pogacar and his teammates rode together at the front of the pack as they reached the Champs-Elysees, and the Slovenian champion raised his fist in the air in celebration.

After Pogacar’s superb performance in the first time trial he was in a class of his own in the Alps and took the lead with a vintage long distance attack in excruciating weather. He then completed demolition work in the Pyrenees with two prestigious stage victories to become the fourth rider in Tour history to win back-to-back summits in the world’s biggest cycling race.

Even Merckx, the five-time Tour champion widely regarded as the greatest winner of all time, was impressed.

“I see him as the new ‘Cannibal’, https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/jul/19/pogacar-caps-a-dominant-repeat-in-france/,” said Merckx, who earned this nickname for his ruthless will to win: “He can certainly win the Tour de France more than five times.

Pogacar won praise for his offensive mentality and ambition to deliver in all types of races. This season he has linked his first Tour triumph to victories in the UAE Tour, Tirenno-Adriatico and the prestigious one-day classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Pogacar’s dominance was helped by the woes of two of his biggest rivals, last year’s runner-up Primoz Roglic and former Tour champion Geraint Thomas, who crashed in the marred first week of racing. ‘accidents and never recovered. Additionally, 2019 champion Egan Bernal skipped the Tour this year after his Giro victory in May. The Colombian climber is only 24 years old, has excellent time trial skills and is expected to be Pogacar’s main rival for years to come.

Meanwhile, Pogacar will fly to the Tokyo Olympics where he will be among the favorites for the gold medal in the road race.

“Anyone who can follow Tadej will be close to victory,” van Aert said.

The Briton Mark Cavendish, wearing the green jersey of the best sprinter, grimaces as the Belgian Wout Van Aert, center right, wins the sprint of the twenty-first and final stage of the Tour de France cycling over 108.4 kilometers (67 , 4 miles) with departure in Chatou and arrival on the Champs Elysées in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (AP Photo / Christophe Ena)

The Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey of the leader of the general classification, strives during the twenty-first and final stage of the Tour de France cycling 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 / Christophe Ena)

The Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey of the leader of the general classification, strives during the twenty-first and final stage of the Tour de France cycling 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 / Christophe Ena)

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow overall leader's jersey, rides a wave as he rides with his UAE team mates as they lead the field in the twenty-first and final 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) stage of the Tour de France cyclist starting in Chatou and finishing on the Champs Elysées in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (AP Photo / Christophe Ena)

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow overall leader’s jersey, rides a wave as he rides with his UAE team mates as they lead the field in the twenty-first and final 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) stage of the Tour de France cyclist starting in Chatou and finishing on the Champs Elysées in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (AP Photo / Christophe Ena)

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey of the leader of the general classification, rides in front of the Louvre museum with his teammates of the United Arab Emirates team during the twenty-first and final stage of the Tour de France cycling on 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) starting in Chatou and ending on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (Yoan Valat / Pool Photo via AP)

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey of the leader of the general classification, rides in front of the Louvre museum with his teammates of the United Arab Emirates team during the twenty-first and final stage of the Tour de France cycling on 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) starting in Chatou and ending on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (Yoan Valat / Pool Photo via AP)

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey of the leader of the general classification, rides in front of the Louvre museum with his teammates of the United Arab Emirates team during the twenty-first and final stage of the Tour de France cycling on 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) starting in Chatou and ending on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (Yoan Valat / Pool Photo via AP)

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey of the leader of the general classification, rides in front of the Louvre museum with his teammates of the United Arab Emirates team during the twenty-first and final stage of the Tour de France cycling on 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) starting in Chatou and ending on the Champs Elysees in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (Yoan Valat / Pool Photo via AP)

The Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey of the leader of the general classification, passes the Arc de Triomphe during the twenty-first and last stage of the Tour de France cycling over 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) starting in Chatou and arrival on the Champs Elysées in Paris, France, Sunday July 18, 2021 (AP Photo / Daniel Cole)

The Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow jersey of the leader of the general classification, passes the Arc de Triomphe during the twenty-first and last stage of the Tour de France cycling over 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) starting in Chatou and arrival on the Champs Elysées in Paris, France, Sunday July 18, 2021 (AP Photo / Daniel Cole)

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow overall leader's jersey, rides a wave as he rides with his UAE team mates as they lead the field in the twenty-first and final 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) stage of the Tour de France cyclist starting in Chatou and finishing on the Champs Elysées in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (AP Photo / Christophe Ena)

Slovenian Tadej Pogacar, wearing the yellow overall leader’s jersey, rides a wave as he rides with his UAE team mates as they lead the field in the twenty-first and final 108.4 kilometers (67.4 miles) stage of the Tour de France cyclist starting in Chatou and finishing on the Champs Elysées in Paris, France, on Sunday July 18, 2021. (AP Photo / Christophe Ena)

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