PARIS (Dispatches) - Tadej Pogacar took the yellow jersey to Paris to win his second straight Tour de France after a grueling three-week odyssey that at times he made look like a recreational ride.
Pogacar’s repeat success at cycling’s biggest event was a tale of total dominance, prompting one question: At age 22, how many more Tours can the Slovenian win?
Pogacar won his first title last September when he became the Tour’s youngest champion in 116 years. He is now the youngest double winner of the race.
In sharp contrast to last year — when as a rookie he had to wait until the penultimate stage to seize the overall lead — Pogacar has been untouchable in this race.
His team was better equipped and better prepared, and Pogacar assumed the favorite’s mantle with the ease of a seasoned veteran. His supremacy was such that, in addition to his overall win, he also claimed the King of the Mountains and best young rider jerseys.
The UAE Team Emirates leader successfully defended his huge lead of 5 minutes, 20 seconds over second-place Jonas Vingegaard in the mostly ceremonial final stage to the Champs-Elysees on Sunday. Richard Carapaz finished third overall, 7:03 off the pace.
Vingegaard and Carapaz were the only riders to finish within 10 minutes of the two-time champion.
“I did my best, maximum, like I always do, and that was enough,” Pogacar said.
Wout van Aert won the 21st stage in a mass sprint. That prevented Mark Cavendish from beating Belgian great Eddy Merckx’s record of 34 stage wins which the British sprinter equaled earlier in the race.
The mostly flat 108-kilometer (67-mile) leg began in Chatou just outside Paris and concluded with eight laps up and down the famed avenue.
Pogacar and his teammates rode together at the front of the pack as they reached the Champs-Elysees, and the Slovenia champion raised his fist in the air in celebration.
Pogacar’s gesture acted as a signal for those fighting for a prestigious stage win as the first accelerations took place. But the attackers’ efforts did not pay off and the stage ended in a mass sprint.