The UAE-Team Emirates rider went into the penultimate race of the Tour with a five minute and 45 second advantage and there was no repeat of last year’s drama, when the 22-year-old overhauled Primoz Roglic to claim his first yellow jersey.
Pogacar – the last man to ride – only laid down the eighth fastest time of the day, treating the 30.8km time trial around the vineyards outside Saint Emillion with a degree of caution as he wrapped up the overall race victory.
While there is still one more stage to go, Sunday’s famous finish on the Champs-Elysees is effectively a procession – with the yellow jersey winner even drinking champagne at the start of the race – before ending in a sprint along the cobbles.
Pogacar – who has won three stages at this year’s Tour – had won every individual time trial since making his debut but was beaten by Belgium’s Wout van Aert on Saturday, who completed the course in a blistering 35 minutes and 53 seconds.
Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard held on to second place in the overall standings in his debut Tour, while Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz – who was just six seconds behind at the start of the day – lost some time in the TT but still secured a place on the podium for Ineos Grenadiers.
In addition to winning the yellow jersey, Pogacar has also secured the white jersey as the Tour’s Best Young Rider and the polka-dot jersey as the Tour’s King of the Mountain – the second year running he has claimed that trio of accolades.
There have been some rumblings of controversy over Pogacar’s dominance, with a report in Swiss daily Le Temps claiming several riders have heard ‘strange noises’ coming from the bikes of four teams: UAE-Emirates, Deceuninck-QuickStep, Jumbo-Visma and Bahrain Victorious.
But Pogacar was in disbelief when asked about the claims yesterday, responding: ‘I don’t know. We don’t hear any noise. We don’t use anything illegal. It’s all Campagnolo materials, Bora. I don’t know what to say.’
From a British perspective, Geraint Thomas had a disappointing Tour due to injury and crashes and finished in47th position in the time trial, over three minutes off Van Aert’s pace, and will need to improve markedly if he is to land a medal at the Olympics next Saturday in the men’s road race.
There is still some drama left for Sunday’s final day, with Mark Cavendish bidding to overhaul Eddie Merckx’s long-standing record of 34 stage wins in what would be a fairytale finish on the Champs-Elysees – while he only needs to stay upright to secure the green jersey.
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