The Campagnolo-using Slovenian sealed victory in Paris, becoming a record-breaker in the process.
Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar, riding for UAE Team Emirates and using Campagnolo gear, has won the 2021 Tour de France.
In doing so, the 22-year-old becomes the youngest rider in Tour history to win two maillot jaune. For the second successive year, he also won the white jersey for young rider classification.
“I’m without words,” Pogačar said after the race.
“To be here again in Paris less than a year from my first victory is something special and I’m so happy to win this race again. It’s been an emotional few weeks. All the team and staff were amazing and I am so thankful for all the hard work they have done to support me. I leave for the Olympics in Tokyo tomorrow with amazing memories. I can’t wait to come back to the Tour de France again soon.”
Pogačar cruised into Paris with a 5:20min lead, the biggest winning margin since Vincenzo Nibali won in 2014.
But in all honesty, was it ever in doubt?
In contrast to 2020, where Pogačar rode in yellow for just one day, ever since the first major mountainous stage on day eight – 150.8km from Oyonnax to Le Grand-Bornand – Pogačar wore the leader’s jersey.
In fact, the signs were ominous for his competition three days earlier when Pogačar dominated the 27.2km time trial from Changé to Laval, his 19sec victory over TT specialist Stefan Kung helped by Pogačar’s Colnago bike armed with Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS 12-speed groupset.
He rolled to an average speed of 51km/hr upon Campagnolo’s Bora WTO 77 wheel upfront and Campagnolo Bora Ultra TT disc outback.
Pogacar stretched his lead to over two minutes one day later on the 144.9km stage from Cluses to Tignes, though the day will arguably live longer in the memory for another Campagnolo-equipped rider, Ben O’Connor of AG2R Citroen Team.
The 25-year-old from Western Australia, competing in his first Tour de France, unleashed a 17km solo breakaway to take the stage win and elevate himself to second overall.
O’Connor maintained his form into the third week and the Pyrenees to take a superb fourth overall in Paris.
O’Connor’s magnificence remained a memorable sidenote compared to Pogačar’s dominance, however. The 11th stage witnessed the double ascent of Ventoux, the Slovenian finishing fourth.
On a brutal day, it was enough to extend his overall lead to over five minutes. For many, even with the Pyrenees still to come, the race for GC was over.
Pogačar continued to tighten his grip over the 108th edition as the race weaved its way over the Pyrenees, including a memorable triumph on the 17th stage atop the Col du Portet.
The Queen stage of this year’s race saw Pogacar come under constant attack from rivals Richard Carapaz and Jonas Vingegaard.
But he displayed the calmness that’s become his trademark before kicking clear with 150m to go to win his second stage of the 2021 Tour de France and fifth overall after his three successes last year.
Chapeau also to Anthony Perez of Cofidis, Crédits Solutions and Dorian Godon of AG2R Citroen Team – both of whom use Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupsets, while AG2R also use Campagnolo’s Bora Ultra WTO wheels – who gave their all to win on Bastille Day, holding a 3:37min advantage with 21km to go.
But that lead was reeled in swiftly on the steep incline to Col du Portet. One day later, an imperious Pogacar all but wrapped up victory with another stage win, this time atop Luz Ardiden.
It meant the penultimate stage – the 30.8km time trial from Libourne to Saint-Émillon – was a more sedate affair than last year’s race-changing time trial, Pogačar sealing the title with a comfortable eighth place.
What a performance from a rider who Eddy Merckx described as the new ‘Cannibal’.
Congratulations to Tadej and UAE Team Emirates.
We at Campagnolo are proud to have supported Tadej with our products and here in Vicenza we’re ready to celebrate his exciting and momentous victory.
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