The duel between Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar lasted till the very end of the very last mountain stage of the 110th Tour de France as the Slovenian outsprinted the Dane at Le Markstein to claim his 11th stage win, the second one this year. Felix Gall placed himself between them and Vingegaard retained the yellow jersey on the eve of the grand finale in Paris, but the second last stage was truly the expected fireworks for Thibaut Pinot who rode alone in the lead in front of his fans before crossing the line in seventh position.
NO OPPOSITION TO CICCONE FOR THE POLKA DOT JERSEY
The start proper of stage 20 was given to 151 riders at 13.44. As usual, Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Dstny) was the first attacker, accompanied this time by his team-mate Jasper De Buyst. Up to Ballon d’Alsace, Campenaerts soloed until he was reeled in 4.4km before the summit. The peloton was compact at the top and the sprint for the KOM was won by Giulio Ciccone who appeared as the only rider interested to contest the polka dot jersey among the four who were still mathematically in the situation of winning it. Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers), 4th overall, crashed at km 33. Once he made it back to the pack, a group of 16 riders including Jonas Vingegaard but not Tadej Pogacar. The yellow jersey eventually sat up to give a chance to the breakaway to succeed.
PINOT’S LAST DANCE IN FRONT OF HIS FANS
Some of these attackers managed to stay away and formed a 6-man leading group with 80km to go: Ciccone and Mattias Skjelmose (Lidl-Trek), Krists Neilands (Israel-Premier Tech), Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Maxime Van Gils (Lotto-Dstny). A counter-attack involved Thibaut Pinot, Valentin Madouas, Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-EasyPost), Chris Harper (Jayco-AlUla), Ion Izagirre (Cofidis) and Kevin Vermaerke (DSM-Firmenich). Pinot made it across by himself on the way up to col de Grosse Pierre eventually crested in first position by Ciccone. It became a group of 10 with 63km to go with Madouas, Uran and Vermaerke reaching the lead after Harper. Ciccone mathematically won the KOM competition at col de la Schlucht 54km before the end.
A WINNING SPRINT FOR POGACAR AT THE END
UAE Team Emirates chased hard at the helm of the main peloton. Up to Petit Ballon, Madouas, Pinot, Ciccone, Pidcock and Barguil got a maximum advantage of 1’30’’ over the yellow jersey group. 5.5km before the summit, Pinot went solo. He crested Petit Ballon alone after being hugely celebrated by his fans for his last mountain stage in the Tour de France. In the yellow jersey group reduced to ten riders, Pogacar attacked for the first time 14km before the end. The trio Pogacar-Vingegaard-Gall passed Pinot, who had been rejoined by Barguil and Pidcock, 3km before the summit of Platzerwasel and went on to contest the stage victory. Simon and Adam Yates caught up with the leading trio with 5km to go. It helped Pogacar win the stage as he received the help of Adam Yates as a lead out man while Simon Yates overtook Rodriguez to reach the fourth place overall.