Tour de France race of truth to decide champ; Peter Sagan’s run likely ends
The stage is set to decide the Tour de France winner on Saturday.
After Soren Kragh Andersen of Denmark won Friday’s 19th stage of 21, where the overall leaders finished together, eyes turn to Saturday’s 22-mile individual time trial -- otherwise known as the race of truth (6:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold).
A Slovenian is extremely likely to win a Tour title for the first time.
Primoz Roglic, a former world junior team champion ski jumper, has been in the yellow jersey for nearly two weeks. He leads countryman Tadej Pogacar by 57 seconds going into the last two stages. Sunday’s finisher is a ceremonial ride into Paris where the leaders are not expected to attack each other.
Miguel Angel Lopez of Colombia, who crashed directly into a road sign on the first stage, is in third, 1:27 behind Roglic. Lopez is 1:39 ahead of fourth-place Australian Richie Porte.
Stage 20 Time Trial Notable Start Times
10:46 a.m. ET -- Sepp Kuss (USA)
11:08 -- Richie Porte (AUS)
11:10 -- Miguel Angel Lopez (COL)
11:12 -- Tadej Pogacar (SLO)
11:14 -- Primoz Roglic (SLO)
Even with a finishing first-category climb, the time trial distance of 22 miles makes it difficult for Pogacar to make up 57 seconds on Roglic. Pogacar beat Roglic in the national time trial championship in June -- by nine seconds on a 9.7-mile course.
“Tomorrow it’s all on me,” Roglic said, according to Cyclingnews.com. “The team has done an amazing job, I have the [yellow] jersey, but we have all worked for it.”
Pogacar, at 21, is bidding to become the youngest Tour de France podium finisher since 1909, according to ProCyclingStats.com. Last year, he became the youngest podium finisher in any Grand Tour since 1974 by placing third at the Vuelta a Espana won by Roglic.
“If I’m on a good day, it’s a course that suits me well,” Pogacar said of the time trial. “If someone told me I’d be in this position before the Tour. I would never have believed them.”
The Slovenians from different teams owned this Tour while defending champion Egan Bernal of Colombia and the formerly dominant Ineos Grenadiers struggled and eventually abandoned on Wednesday.
One competition that all but wrapped up Friday was for the green jersey going to the Tour’s top sprinter.
Sam Bennett is in line to become the second Irishman to win that title after Sean Kelly, who did so four times in the 1980s.
Bennett goes into the weekend with a 55-point lead over Slovakian Peter Sagan, who won the title in each of his last seven Tours that he has finished, a record total.
With a maximum 70 points available for one sprinter left, Bennett would clinch the title by finishing eighth on Sunday and picking up a handful of intermediate sprint points.
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