111km to go: They have just gone through Aubergenville, site of the Flins Renault factory, the car maker’s largest factory in France. Last year it produced 64,061 all-electric Zoe cars, 41,931 Clios, and in an unexpected twist 54,118 Nissan Micras.
113km to go: As anyone who has watched the final stage of a Tour de France before will know, there’s unlikely to be a great deal of action until the closing stages. There is a category four climb upcoming, though, in about 4km.
117km to go: When the going gets tough the tuft gets going.
118km to go: There’s one tuft of hair poking up through Pogacar’s helmet. Someone really should tell him that he’s going to be spending the majority of the day when more photographs will be taken of him than any other day of his life with a comedy hair fail.
“Whilst its a huge pity that Geraint Thomas hasn’t been jostling for the title, it is so good that a team other than Sky/Ineos has taken the tour by storm this year,” writes Andrew Benton. “The Sky/Ineos victory train was getting pretty boring. Hopefully next year the competition will be more open still, with this year’s having broken Ineos’s dominance. Dave ‘Egan-his-face’ Brailsford has done massive work for the UK in cycling over the last decade, but I wonder if the loss of momentum will affect him and the Ineos team in the long run.”
121km to go: There was apparently some talk about how the Tour could mark solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement today. As Jeremy Whittle wrote in yesterday’s report:
There has been discussion too of how to react to the Black Lives Matter movement, with the only black rider in the peloton, Kevin Reza, becoming increasingly voluble on cycling’s lack of diversity as the race wore on. Discussions are ongoing within leading teams and riders on how best to respond to an issue that, after years being swept under the carpet, is now out in the open.
It appears that the conclusion was that they wouldn’t mark it at all. On Eurosport the commentary team express their disappointment/regret/anger.
122km to go: And they’re off! Racing has begun on the 21st and final stage of the 2020 Tour de France. Today’s stage looks something like this:
122+3km to go: More photo opportunities, as first the five Slovenians – Tadej Pogacar, Primoz Roglic, Matej Mohoric, Luka Mezgec and Jan Polanc – gather at the front, and then the six members of UAE-Team Emirates link arms.
122+4km to go: Primoz Roglic puts an arm around Pogacar and smiles for the cameras, with apparent warmth. It is admirable that he is able to do so, I can’t imagine how painful yesterday must have been for him.
122+6km to go: They are rolling gently through Mantes-la-Jolie, hometown of Arsenal’s Nicolas Pépé (also notable for other reasons).
The riders are ready for the depart fictif, with Tadej Pogacar wearing yellow for the first and obviously most important time. Here’s Jeremy Whittle on yesterday’s action:
Well, they actually did it. The 2020 Tour de France ends today, with no end of drama in the actual race and mercifully little away from it.
Tadej Pogacar’s performance in yesterday’s extraordinary time trial has, but for a few dotted i’s and crossed t’s, sealed a stunning win for him and made his apparently glory-bound compatriot look more like Secondoz Roglic. Pogacar also holds the polka dot jersey as the most successful climber, but the drama and potential last-day intrigue is in the race for the green jersey for leading the points classification, which Peter Sagan has won every time he has finished the Tour – seven times in eight years, all told. At the start of the last day Sagan sits second, 55 points behind Ireland’s Sam Bennett, which means he could potentially still win if the Irishman struggles and he scoops significant points in the day’s two sprints (though really Bennett, who has already more than tripled his points haul on the only other occasion he finished the tour in 2016, only needs to cycle sensibly, track the Slovakian, and look forward to the presentation of his €25,000 cheque in Paris).
Anyway, enough from me – here’s William Fotheringham:
French headline writers love to adapt the sentence used on level crossings by the national rail company to warn that if the red lights keep flashing, another train may be coming. The 2020 Tour de France is a landmark edition in various ways, but with Tadej Pogacar snatching a last-gasp, unlikely win from Primoz Roglic on Saturday, the old level-crossing cliche, un train peut en cacher un autre, could sum up the past three weeks: one Slovenian can come in the slipstream of another. Nailing first and second in the biggest bike race in the world is a huge step for one of the smallest cycle racing nations, one with a population of two million people, which has been independent for less than 30 years.
Much more here: