By Julian Green | Contributor
Following three weeks of intense racing, the 2020 Tour de France concluded with the annual sprint down the Champs-Elysees in Paris on 20 September. Whilst many onlookers doubted whether the race would survive the 21 stages to Paris due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Europe, the Tour proved to be one of the most unpredictable editions ever with dramatic twists and turns throughout.
Initially planned to commence on 27 June, the Tour was postponed until 29 August. The annual race included 176 riders from 22 teams, promising excitement.
Who were the favourites?
There were two standout favourites to take home the yellow jersey. The first was the Slovenian rider, Primož Roglič of Jumbo-Visma at, and last year’s winner, Egan Bernal of Columbia and Team Ineos (formally known as Team Sky).
Others among the favourites included Roglič’s Dutch teammate from Jumbo-Visma and former Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin, as well as the French favourite, from Française des Jeux, Thibaut Pinot. 21 year old Slovenian Tadej Pogačar from UAE Team Emirates was very much seen as an outsider coming into the event but was still considered a dark horse.
It would in fact be Tadej Pogačar who came out victorious on Tour, becoming the first Slovenian winner, the first debut winner in 37 years, and the youngest winner for 111 years. Pogačar also became the first rider since 1969 to wear three different jerseys in Paris, collecting the yellow jersey, the polka-dot jersey (for the best climber), and the white jersey (for best young rider). Yet his ride to victory was one that did not come easily.
With tradition meaning the yellow jersey cannot be challenged in the final stage, the penultimate stage represented the last opportunity to take le maillot jaune from Primož Roglič, who had held it since stage nine.
Roglič held a comfortable 57-second advantage over Tadej Pogačar going into the penultimate stage. However, Pogačar produced a stunning time trial win up La Planche des Belles Filles to beat his fellow Slovenian competitor by one minute and 56 seconds, somehow managing to finish the race with a 59 second lead of his own.
To achieve this at such a young age is an incredible accomplishment. But this now sets a precedent for his career going forward, as there will be great expectations for him to further these achievements as he progresses.
Did Team Ineos get it all wrong?
As Tadej Pogačar and his team managed to overcome the seemingly impossible to shock the world in order to win, conversely Team Ineos will be wondering how they managed to get the tour so wrong.
Last year’s victor, Egan Bernal, abandoned the race before stage 17 following a calamitous climb up the Grand Colombier on stage 15, which saw him lose over seven minutes to the then leader Primož Roglič.
Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) had won the Tour in seven of the last eight years, yet this year they finished without their star man. The former British winners of the race Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas were both left out of the Team Ineos line-up, a decision which may have left the team too inexperienced to cope with the high-pressures of the race.
The 2020 Tour de France represents excitement in the world of global cycling, with new stars on the scene, as well as many wondering how Team Ineos can possibly bounce back from such a catastrophic campaign.