Tadej Pogacar all but clinched the Tour de France on Saturday after his Slovenian compatriot Primoz Roglic let a 57 seconds lead slip in a tricky individual time-trial, the last day of real racing.
The 21-year-old Pogacar will lead the peloton into Paris on Sunday wearing the overall leader’s yellow jersey and, barring disaster, will climb onto the top step of the podium.
Staggeringly, the youngster will also pull on the polka dot jersey as best climber on the Tour, and also the white jersey as best under-25s rider.
“My dream was just to take part,” said Pogacar on his first Tour de France.
“I could hear nothing on the final climb and I went for it with everything,” he said.
Often unlucky Australia’s Richie Porte climbed to third overall here to make the Tour de France podium for the first time, while Spain’s Mikel Landa and Enric Mas rounded out the top five with strong finishes too.
Ireland’s Sam Bennett looks set to win the best sprinter’s green jersey, but must negotiate the eight lap dash that ends the Tour de France along the Champs Elysees in Paris on Sunday.
Here in the time-trial Pogacar pulverised the field with his stage-winning performance, and his team hugged and kissed him as they realised the 20202 Tour was theirs.
Roglic had led the Tour since stage nine and his dramatic meltdown on the final climb means even as loser he remains the big story.
Pogacar also is set to become the youngest postwar champion as a generational shift takes hold of cycling with a string of young stage winners.
The UAE rider Pogacar changed bikes, which took 12 seconds, after the 30km rolling section to tackle the 6km eight percent climb at top speed.
The 30-year-old Roglic only decided to change bikes once he began to crumble fast, but it became painfully clear he was in for a horrible finale.
Dressed in yellow for the first time after covering the 36km in 55mins 55sec Pogacar said he could hardly think let alone answer questions.
The defeat comes as a bombshell for the Dutch Jumbo team, but the rookie’s performance will go down as one of the all-time-great turnarounds.
All the more so as Roglic has previously produced outstanding time-trial performances at the 2019 Giro d’Italia through the Tuscany vineyards and later that year on his way to Vuelta a Espana victory on the stage 10 time-trial at Pau.