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Gallery: Wout van Aert king of the road after Stage 20 TT win

Pogacar looks human for once as Van Aert edges out Asgreen in final Tour time-trial

Martin James
18 Jul 2021

The individual time-trial may be known as the race of truth, but in truth there was little of consequence to be decided on Stage 20 of the 2021 Tour de France.

The stage win itself was up for grabs of course, but aside for some squabbling over minor GC places, this was more a case for admiring the form and fitness of these two-wheeled gladiators and marvelling at the journey this remarkable race has taken over the past three weeks.

Mark Cavendish was an early starter, and largely just going through the motions ahead of his date with destiny on the Champs-Élysées today as he targets Eddy Merckx’s stage win record.

Chris Froome was on the road not long after, not a contender for victory these days but a victor all the same in his long road back to Grand Tour relevance.

Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Kasper Asgreen certainly was a possible winner, and he came oh so close with a time of 36:14 over the 30.8km course, second place representing his best result during a Tour where he has been a constant visible presence.

Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) started the day outside the top 40 and more than two hours down overall yet that represented a degree of success, so dire was his opening week. He would place 47th on the day.

Twice a solo winner already this year, Matej Mohoric was clearly still smarting from his efforts on Stage 19, his eventual 140th place testament to just how much the day before had cost him.

Rather than yellow or the rainbow stripes, Julian Alaphilippe was in his normal Deceuninck-QuickStep skinsuit for once, reminding us of his integral role in the Wolf Pack on his way to 19th, 2:05 off the best time of the day.

Remember when we were talking about Wout van Aert playing second fiddle to Mathieu van der Poel in the battle of the ridiculously talented ‘Vans’?

Well, Van der Poel may have won the battle with his yellow jersey-grabbing win on Stage 2, but Wout won the war, first by winning the Ventoux stage and then following up with an effort against the clock that nobody could match yesterday – a pair of stage wins leaving Jumbo-Visma’s Tour return looking decidedly healthy despite Primoz Roglic’s disappointing withdrawal mid-race.

Sepp Kuss’s stage win in Andorra certainly helped, but the real silver lining for the team has been the rise of Jonas Vingegaard, who took an excellent third on the day to cement his second place overall.

Then there was Tadej. We’ve dished out no shortage of praise for Tadej Pogacar during the 2021 Tour de France but for once he wasn’t up to the task yesterday, finishing a modest eighth on the day. We supect he’ll still be more than satisfied with his 5:20 lead over Vingegaard going into today’s final run to Paris.

Here are Cyclist photographer Chris Auld’s photos from Stage 20:

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