Irishman Sam Bennett sprints to Paris stage win in Green Jersey
Tadej Pogacar won 2020 Tour de France on the eve of his 22nd birthday, becoming the second-youngest winner of the 117-year-old race
Sam Bennett won the prestigious final sprint on the Champs-Elysees, giving him his second stage win at this Tour. He also won the race’s green jersey, awarded for picking up the most points in sprints during and at the finish of stages.
He beat world champion Mads Pedersen and mega-star Peter Sagan to the line.
With jets trailing plumes of red, white and blue smoke above the riders as they raced through Paris, on the Champs-Elysees lined with French tricolor flags, the Tour was also celebrating a victory – over the coronavirus.
Sam Bennett on his stage win said, "I was nervous about riding in the bunch because it was really fast - it doesn't seem like it on TV but it's a fast downhill. A bit nervous – but we went back and I thought I had one lap to go but then they said on the radio it was two laps to go, and I thought 'OK, I have time to recover'.
"Then we waited and waited, the boys controlled the race, came in under the tunnel first. I was thinking, too early, too early – and Trek were trying to push up and we were holding - and then into the last corner, Mørkøv started to open up and we had each side covered. I let Trek come up because I felt from the lap before there was a bit of a headwind.
"So I let them go first, and then I waited and then I opened up when Stuyven came off the front for Pedersen, I had a bike length to run at his wheel, so I ran at that - and came on the other side where it was smooth. I thought there was going to be someone to come past me - but I can't believe I got it."
Tadej Pogacar becomes the youngest champion of the race since 1904
He mounted the podium as the sun set behind the Arc de Triomphe to pick up the best climber's jersey, the white top young rider's prize and finally the Tour winner's famous yellow jersey.
Tadej Pogacar said after the finish, "It's unbelievable. It's really crazy. Even if I didn't win - even if I came second or last, it's nice to be here. This is the top of the top. I cannot describe this feeling with words. Today was very special – special moments with my teammates. Finally I had some time to talk with them on the bike, not just going full gas every day. A lot of respect for the other riders. Every single one of them congratulated me today. I am really thankful. This sport is really amazing."
Pogacar's UAE Emirates team pocketed 623,930 euros ($738,798) thanks to his victory.
Dutch team Jumbo-Visma dominated the 2020 race with their yellow and black jerseys always grouped at the head of the race as they outpowered everyone until the last and crucial day.
Winners of the past five editions, Britain's Team Ineos also had a Tour they may regret. They put their faith in defending champion Egan Bernal, but in spite of spending a week in the white jersey, he struggled to impose himself, lacking perhaps the wisdom and experience of Geraint Thomas or Chris Froome. He lost over seven minutes on stage 15 and dropped out the following day.
When the Tour was delayed because of the epidemic in July and left the start town of Nice three weeks ago, it was unsure that enough riders would be able to stay virus-free before the race reached Paris. But none of the 176 starters, or 146 finishers, tested positive in multiple batteries of tests, validating the hermetic bubble of measures to shield them from infection. Roadside fans still cheered them on, mostly respecting riders’ pleas that they wear face masks. The only COVID-19 positives touched a handful of team employees and the race director.
VIDEO: 2020 Tour de France Stage 21 Highlights
2020 Tour de France Stage 21 Top 10
1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-Quickstep 02:53:32
2 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
6 Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
7 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
8 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
9 Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
10 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling
2020 Tour de France Final GC
1 Tadej Pogacar (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 87:20:05
2 Primoz Roglic (Slo) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:00:59
3 Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo 00:03:30
4 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Bahrain McLaren 00:05:58
5 Enric Mas Nicolau (Spa) Movistar Team 00:06:07
6 Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Col) Astana Pro Team 00:06:47
7 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:07:48
8 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Pro Cycling 00:08:02
9 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:09:25
10 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain McLaren 00:14:03