Pogacar youngest two-time champ
Slovenian finishes Tour with white & polka-dot jersey's
PARIS: Tadej Pogacar became the youngest rider in history to win back-to-back Tour de France titles, after some vintage racing drew comparisons to cycling's greatest.
The 22-year-old Slovenian, who won the Tour on his debut last year, hammered his rivals in the Alps with a long-range attack on stage eight, reminiscent of the 1980s event, and remained in command for the rest of the race.
He outpaced Denmark's Jonas Vingegaard by five minutes 20 seconds, while Ecuador's Richard Carapaz finished third, 7:03 off the pace, as his Ineos Grenadiers team failed to spark again after last year's failure.
Pogacar finished safely in the bunch on the 21st and final stage, as Belgian Wout van Aert won the sprint to beat compatriot Jasper Philipsen and Briton Mark Cavendish, who were second and third, respectively.
???? Final rankings Stage/Etape— Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 18, 2021
The Jerseys and rankings following stage 21 on the Champs-Elysées. ⬇️
Les maillots distinctifs et les classements après l'arrivée finale sur les Champs-Elysées. ⬇️
Pogacar watched from the inside of the pack, raising his arms as he crossed the finish line.
"I see him as the new Cannibal," said Eddy Merckx, a five-time Tour champion who earned the nickname due to his insatiable appetite for victory and won his first Tour at the age of 23 in 1969.
"He is extremely powerful. I believe he will win several editions of the Tour in the coming years. If nothing bad happens to him, he has a good chance of winning the Tour de France more than five times."
While Pogacar claims he dislikes comparisons, the UAE Emirates rider threw caution to the wind on the eighth stage, attacking in the Col de Romme in a move reminiscent of Merckx or fellow five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault.
Pogacar won two Pyrenees mountain stages and an individual time trial, demonstrating his all-around abilities, with his only sign of weakness coming in week two on Mont Ventoux.
Like last year, he finishes the Tour with the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider in the race and the polka-dot jersey for the mountains classification.
Cavendish was awarded the green jersey after increasing his career stage win total to a record-equaling 34 with four victories in this year's race, despite being denied the 35th by Van Aert.
It was a stunning comeback for the Manxman, who was returning to the Tour for the first time since 2018 after a string of poor results and mental health issues.
Cavendish was perfectly set up in the sprints by his Deceuninck-Quick Step teammates, who led the Belgian team to five victories this year.
Cavendish was untouchable after losing the first mass sprint of the race, avoiding the multiple crashes that marred this year's Tour and sending his potential main rival, Caleb Ewan, home after the third stage.
Those crashes also ended the hopes of last year's runner-up Primoz Roglic, who abandoned before the eighth stage, as well as the chances of Ineos Greanadiers co-leaders Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart, who crashed early in the race.
The last few days have been marked by a potential doping scandal, with a French prosecutor in Marseille opening an investigation into the Bahrain Victorious team after police searched the outfit's accommodation and vehicles.
Bahrain Victorious stated that they were assisting the investigation.
They won three stages this year thanks to Belgian Dylan Teuns' solo mountain raid, while Slovenian Matej Mohoric won two from the breakaway.
Edited - SportsAction / Inputs - Agency